Suwannee Democrat

January 8, 2013

Walking for peace

Woman walking from Massachusetts as ambassador for peace makes way through Live Oak

Bryant Thigpen
Suwannee Democrat

Live Oak — Annie Keithline made her way through Live Oak on Monday as she travels the U.S. border as an ambassador for peace. Keithline, 23, is from Rhode Island and believes that by traveling around the country and meeting people face to face, she can make a difference and help people find peace.

Keithline left Emherst, Mass., on March 21, 2012, and embarked on a journey that will take her about four more years to complete. So far, she has walked over 2,000 miles.

“I take my time and get to know people,” said Keithline. “Sometimes I might spend a couple of days in one city with a family. I have no set schedule.”

Keithline’s journey is difficult, but her mission is simple: “I’m walking for peace, and I believe that if we met people face to face and didn’t have an agenda for them, we can have peace.”

In her travels, Keithline said she has made a lot of friends along the way and remains in contact with them through text, phone calls and facebook as she walks. “When people find out what I’m walking for, they’re very generous to help me. In fact, I’ve had some people to help me without me telling them my cause.”

Keithline said between North Carolina and Jacksonville, she had so many people purchase her meals or give her a place to stay that she never had to use a dime of her money.

“They were so kind to help me,” she said. “I certainly feel enriched by the people I’ve met. I’ve built some wonderful relationships.”

While Keithline was attending college, she felt like there was something greater she needed to do.

“I was in college for three years and I felt like I needed to do something else,” she said. “I can’t feel calm when there’s social divisions among people. We just need to get out and meet people face to face and get to know them without having a personal agenda for them.”

What makes Keithline unique is that she travels with a guitar strapped to her back and is ready to sing to anyone who will listen, including this reporter. Keithline, however, is modest and wouldn’t allow her photo to be taken or her musical voice recorded.

“I love to play my guitar and make music,” she said. “I love to sing and just have fun with it.”

For Christmas, she got a surprise from her family when they left the northern state and came to Orlando to spend Christmas with her. “My family worries about me, but I’ve been doing this for almost a year now and I’m fine. I just keep telling them I’ll be ok.”

Keithline will continue her trip down U.S. 90 to Pensacola as she continues to walk for peace.