Four directions came together as one in the name of peace prior to Springfield’s National Night Out festivities at Snyder Park on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
People from the south and west sides of town wore red and approached from the park’s south end and others representing the north and east clad in blue came down Bechtle Avenue from the north, all participating in Springfield Promise Neighborhood’s second peace march.
The two sides met at the park’s green bridge, some holding signs to make the community a better place overall as they crossed to the festival area.
Springfield native Kenneth Applin participated in Promise Neighborhood’s first peace march in 2015 when National Night Out was at City Hall Plaza. He made it a point to return for this initial event in Snyder Park.
“When you think about how the north and south came together here it’s an eye-opener,” said Applin. “Now we’re here with friends we haven’t met yet. We need to come together as a nation like this.”
Monica Lasiter, Springfield Promise Neighborhood’s neighborhood liaison and march organizer estimated about 20 people participated. She hopes this will be a permanent prelude to future National Night Out events here.
The march was also to support the Springfield Police Department, which sponsors National Night Out locally, an event that promotes community involvement. Springfield Promise Neighborhood is a nonprofit group working to improve life in the neighborhoods near Lincoln Elementary School.
Bruce Vincent, a chaplain at Springfield Masonic Community, was encouraged by the pastor at his church to join the march. He pointed to the children on swings in the park as why it’s important.
“We need to think about what’s going on with violence and opioids for them,” Vincent said.
Dr. Robert Welker, Director of Springfield Promise Neighborhood, echoed that thought, saying it is a teaching moment when children see there are caring people in the community.
“Peace for a lot of us can be about alternatives and positive opportunities. It can be something like taking care of a neighbor who needs help.”