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Walking Away From War: An Iraq Veteran in Massachusetts

"If I am saying no to war, I want to find out what to say yes to."

  These are the words of Josh Steiber who, at 21 years old, has undertaken a journey of self-discovery that has led him from a tour of duty in the Iraq "surge" to walking the streets of America in search of peace. 

  After returning from a 14 month tour in Iraq, Josh began to realize that he could no longer live by the military ideology that he had been taught since childhood.  In 2009, Steiber was granted the status of Conscientious Objector and refused to return to war. 

A Journey for Peace

  Now, Josh Steiber is at the beginning of a walk across the country, from his hometown in Maryland to California, spreading his message of peace and nonviolence.  Recently, he came through Massachusetts to visit a number of organizations, peace activists, and supporters of his cause.  Throughout his journey, Steiber will be using his combat pay from Iraq, totalling around $30,000, to donate to organizations that are working towards peace and justice.

  On June 26th, the veteran visited the home of nonviolent priest Father McCarthy before visiting the Peace Abbey in Sherborn.  At the Peace Abbey, Steiber added his name to the registry of Conscientious Objectors, inspired by the legacy of peace activists before him.

  The next day, Josh visited Oxfam America in Boston, one of the organizations that will benefit from his walk of peace.  Afterward, he walked to MIT to spend an afternoon with the linguist and intellectual Noam Chomsky, and the two had a conversation about peace, the military-industrial complex, and the American public. On Monday night, he heard Cindy Sheehan speak at the Arlington Center.

  The following day,  Josh walked to the regional office of the AFSC in Cambridge to an event with Mass Peace Action, where he spoke to the gathered audience about his experiences of war and his journey for peace.  He continued on to Bikes not Bombs on June 30, another highlighted organization on his journey.  The following morning Steiber attended the ash burial ceremony of Ralph DiGia, a consciencious objector during WWII.

  Steiber spent the Fourth of July weekend in Framingham, staying with local peace activists until he had a morning speaking arrangement at Annie's Book Shop in Nobscot.  He left for Northampton on July 5th, as he continues to move westward on his journey across the country.

  In his quest to find peace, Steiber is keeping a blog that he calls "The Contagious Love Experiment," where he records the people. places, and organizations he visits along the way and his reactions to them. 

  If you would like to read further media coverage of Steiber, there have been local articles on the Framingham event, the Cambridge event, and a video of a lecture given in Staten Island, NY.

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