Veteran to return on a mission of peace
By Ginny Masullo
TFW Contributing Writer
When Jacob George, founder of A Ride Till the End, pedaled his bicycle out of Fayetteville on May 1, 2010, he and the other riders who joined him had a vision. They would ride across the Southern United States to spread their message that war is not the answer.
After logging 6,000 miles in 14 months, Jacob reports that, “I had no idea what I was riding into. I didn’t know there was an infrastructure out there of people working for the common goal of stopping these wars. ” As a result, connections have been made and the Ride is growing beyond anything imagined.
On July 19, Jacob will depart for Afghanistan where he did three tours of duty with the U.S. Army in the Joint Special Forces Command. This time he visits as civilian with the group Voices for Creative Nonviolence. There he’ll lay the groundwork for Ride’s new project: Bikes not Bombs. Meeting with the Afghanistan Youth Volunteers, an Afghani peace organization, he plans to establish the framework for delivering bicycles to that group.
On Saturday, July 15 from 6 to 9 p.m., the Omni Center for Peace Justice and Equality in Fayetteville will host a potluck/fundraiser where Jacob will give a brief talk — “Winning the Hearts and Minds of Afghanistan Veterans: Turning a Failed Strategy into Peaceful Solution” — on the current state of the Afghanistan veterans peace movement.
When Jacob returns to Fayetteville, he and the Ride movement will launch the Bicycles not Bombs campaign at a local celebratory event during the week of Aug. 16.
By Sept. 11, after touring seven U. S. cities as a representative of the Afghanistan veterans peace seeking community, Jacob, his banjo-toting bicycle and other Ride members will go to the World Trade Center site in New York City where they will join even more cyclists for a ride from New York to Washington, D.C., to raise money for the bicycles that’ll be sent to Afghanistan.
“The ride is 250 miles, and we would like to raise one bicycle for every mile. Give us your worn out wheels, and we will resurrect them,” says Jacob.
“Not everyone can travel and do the kind of work that Jacob and A Ride Till The End do, but our community benefits by the support we show for (the Ride) and its growing efforts,” says Gladys Tiffany, Omni president. “Peace workers always look for an effective way to shine a light into the problems of war. Jacob and (the Ride) are not only effective lights, they are a local, and now, national and international beam into the dark tribulations of war. Having the local support of Omni and the larger community of Fayetteville lends credibility as Jacob and others pedal down the dusty roads. A few dollars from each of our community members keeps (the Ride) rolling. We all become a part of something larger by our support for the energy that (the Ride) is spreading throughout our country and the world.”