Sam’s Ride for Peace

Sam Winstead, a Roxboro Rotary Club member and an ex WWII marine, celebrated his 91st birthday May 22nd in Washington DC one day after completing his 5th consecutive Ride for Peace.  For the last 5 years, Sam has led a small team of bicyclists from Raleigh NC to Washington DC to carry and deliver a personal message, and offer a challenge, to our politicians to take positive action for peace in the world.

Sam’s 5th Ride for Peace left Raleigh on May 14, 2016. The riders were treated to a rousing send-off serenade in Raleigh by the Triangle Raging Grannies. When they arrived in Washington DC on May 21, 2016, where riders joined in a peaceful display organized by Veterans For Peace (VFP) supporting Roger Ehrlich’s Swords to Plowshares Memorial Bell Tower display at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall.

In Sam’s own words:

In 1945, we were camped on the northern tip of Okinawa waiting for the ship that would bring me home to the land of freedom and harmony. Our guns had silenced all the evil forces and I knew wars would be history. In 2014, I must concede that I had it all wrong

When Sam left the military after World War II, he tried his best to never think about war again. “I served in World War II with the First Marine Division and afterwards I just separated myself from war, war mongers, anything pertaining to war,”

That was until he received a letter from his grandson who was serving in Iraq. “Grandad, I am so distressed. They don’t want us over here, we are just tearing this country apart. We don’t want to be here, killing innocent people”.

The letter brought Sam back to the horrors of a bloody conflict seventy years earlier. He had tried to deal with the pain of losing friends in WWII by staying removed from the thought of war- but now his grandson was in the same pain.

So Sam decided to organize a bike ride from North Carolina to Washington, DC, bringing his message of peace to the people that could make a difference- the representatives in Congress.  In April 2012, the then 86 year old Sam Winstead began the very first Sam’s Ride for Peace.

Putting together a ride involves a lot of time, planning, expertise, and energy. Looking to the future, Sam created a Not For Profit Corporation (Sam’s Ride for Peace, Inc) that will continue his legacy after his cycling days are over.

Sam’s Mission can be explained in the following statements:-

  • To work with other Peace Delegates towards a common goal
  • To emphasize the need for peace to our youths and to ensure them that everyone has an interest in this world and a right to demand peace.
  • To recognize that over the last five year we have had members from seven foreign countries ride with us and, with their help, there is an opportunity for our mission to encompass the world.
  • To support riders that are in financial need, especially youth, if finances are available

Sam usually stays in DC to visit senators and representatives as part of his mission for peace, but this year he hurried home to his ailing wife, Marie, who is in a Durham nursing home recovering from a stroke and broken hip as result of a fall.  Marie had encouraged Sam not to miss his fifth Ride for Peace, knowing how important the ride was to Sam.

Producer/Director of FiLMS for World Peace Ahmed Selim, his wife Anita and their two sons were on the ride along with several of Ahmed’s NC State students . Ahmed filmed portions of the ride and evening activities which featured two new destinations, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart near the Virginia Commonwealth Univ. in Richmond, and Longwood University in Farmville.  Roger Ehrlich (VFP) had set up the Swords to Plowshares Memorial Bell Tower at the Cathedral the previous week, and we held a moving ceremony at the Bell Tower the morning of May 18th.

For the fifth consecutive year, the riders were hosted by the wonderful people of the Grayhaven Winery in Gum Spring, and the Glen-Ora Farm in Middleburg, as well as George Ripley’s Columbia Heights home once we landed in DC.

Planning for the 6th annual ride is already underway as the SRFP committees absorb the lessons of this year’s ride and seek to consolidate and extend ways to take Sam’s message into schools and colleges.

To learn more visit  www.samsrideforpeace.com

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