Grand Tour 5K Race
October 26, 2003
Kate is in front, 2nd from right
Larry is in back, 3rd from right
Two days after the Wellstones' plane crashed in Eveleth, I ran the Grand Tour race in St. Paul with two other people wearing Wellstone shirts. After that race, I sat on the curb and cried.
This year, I want to run that race again without the tears. The Grand Tour will be one year and one day after the Wellstones' deaths. This year when I run, I hope to see many other runners wearing green to remember Paul and Sheila. I hope to run and feel strong. I want this year's race to be happy--and I believe it can be. We will always miss Paul and Sheila, but we can choose to live, and work, and run with some of their energy.
I hope you'll join me at the Grand Tour this year, October 26, 2003. It's a 5K race that starts and ends at Runners' Edge, 792 Grand Avenue, St. Paul. You can register at the store, or online at The Sporting Life's website, www.tslevents.com. It'd be great to see lots of runners wearing Wellstone shirts, but if you don't have one, just wear anything green, or I can give you a Wellstone sticker at the race if you like. P.S. You may know that October 25 has been dubbed Wellstone World Music Day. Musicians around the Twin Cities will be playing and singing in memory of Paul and Sheila. I'll be at a few concerts, and maybe I'll see you there or at the race the next morning. Feel free to pass this letter, and the essay below, to anyone you know who wants to remember the Wellstones.
WE ARE THE BUS
By Kate Havelin
It's been a year since a plane crashed in Eveleth --a year of shock and grief, protests and war, taunts and hope.
A year ago, I wrote an essay about grieving Paul Wellstone. I quoted Emma Goldman, who said, "Out of the chaos, the future emerges in harmony and beauty." Last November, I couldn't imagine any harmony.
Today, I know that harmony exists. Since the Wellstones died, many others and I realized that we needed to stand up, we needed to speak up, we needed to do more. And we have. I take heart from the many people I've met this past year--neighbors and new friends who have chosen to work to make a difference.
I think of Rachel and Anne, two of the many marvelous people I've met since Wellstone died. They didn't know each other a year ago, but when President Bush began pushing for war, Rachel and Anne began pushing back. They organized Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace, one of countless grassroots groups that sprang up before the war. Just weeks after the first Merriam Park Neighbors meeting, the group organized a major protest march along Summit and Grand Avenues.
The march stretched for half a mile. Since then, Merriam Park Neighbors have continued to organize. They sponsored a fundraiser concert for the people of Iraq. This spring, Rachel's house became a sewing center as she and Anne and other neighbors sewed and filled hundreds of bags of school supplies for Iraqi children.
Rachel has become the campaign manager for Jay Benanov, St. Paul's most progressive city council member--this in addition to working fulltime and being a single parent. Rachel and I were among 28 Minnesotans who chose to get arrested at Senator Norm Coleman's office last winter to protest the war.
Anne and I are part of a group that's trying to do grassroots organizing for the DFL. We're sending letters to our neighbors, asking them to get involved, to help get more people to the March 2nd caucus so we can elect a Democrat to the White House and U.S. Senate next fall.
Last fall, I felt isolated and alone, grieving Paul, unable to talk to friends. Now, each I've made new friends. Each week, I talk and laugh with a lively group of women and men. We stand at Summit and Snelling each Sunday from noon to 1pm. Sarah and Mary Alice, Sally, Nancy, Steve, Carol, Kathleen, Mary Jean, and Duane--few of us knew each other before the war, before Wellstone died. Now, we are a community of hope. Holding our peace signs, standing together, we are doing what we can to get others to think about why we went to war, and what our country needs to do now.
The war brought many of us out, but I think Paul Wellstone's death spurred us just as much. I've talked with many people who say they realized they have to do something. Standing up sometimes takes heart, or at least a strong stomach. Each week at our peace vigil, many drivers honk in support or flash a peace sign. Others give us the finger and yell, "Go back to Cuba." They call us communists, traitors, and liberal sluts (that last insult tickled Mary Alice, who sitting in a walker chair at age 67, says it's been some time since she's been called a slut.) I've learned not to get upset by the mean things people say. In the beginning, I'd leave the vigil feeling anything but peaceful, my stomach tense from the insults and rude gestures. It didn't take long to learn that my anger was hurting me more than anything anyone yelled.
I'm working on finding peace within myself, and letting the harsh words slide off. It's a lesson I wish I could have mastered after Paul's memorial service. When talk radio and people who weren't there distorted the innocent intentions of grieving friends, I felt wounded. I needed to retreat from the cruel words. Now, I am no longer in retreat. I can handle other's cynicism. Rachel says when she stands out with her peace group on Fridays, one man would come by to mock them, saying, "Paul is dead, he's dead--get over it. Park the bus." I know we'll never park the bus. We ARE the bus. We who believe in what Paul and Sheila believed, we are the bus that will carry forward the Wellstones' work.
I've started volunteering at Wellstone Action!, a group dedicated to continuing the Wellstones' work. Through education, advocacy, and organizing, Wellstone Action! will keep the bus, and us, moving ahead. I intend to keep moving ahead, standing with Mary Alice and Sarah and the rest of the peace vigil, working with Rachel and Anne and many others. We can choose to work and organize, live and run with the passion the Wellstones lived.
We have had a year of shock and grief, protests and war, taunts and hope. And it's the hope that will drive us forward. This year has taught me that hope is an amazing muscle.