On April 26, 2003, residents of Olympia, Washington took to the streets for the 9th Annual Procession of the Species Celebration. This is the largest Earth Day event in the Pacific Northwest, attracting over 30,000 spectators and 2,500 marchers who don handmade costumes representing Fire, Air, Earth and Water.
This year’s march was especially meaningful due to the presence of 100-150 peace doves in honor of Olympia native Rachel Corrie, who lost her life on March 16 while undertaking peacekeeping work in the Palestinian refugee camp of Rafah.
Rachel was instrumental in producing the first gathering of over 30 peace doves that marched in 2002 and her spirit was deeply felt by this year’s doves. A prominent dove was Rachel’s mother, Cindy Corrie, whose dove mask featured a single tear drop.
Others in the group were friends and associates of Rachel, some of whom found the experience intensely emotional as they both mourned and celebrated Rachel’s life. Many were seen wiping tears and hugging before the march. Some of these same people had wore the dove costumes to the March memorial service for Rachel at The Evergreen State College, also in Olympia.
Many doves had photos and symbols of Rachel incorporated into their costumes. Other doves included children, local peace activists and college students. Several had made their costumes at weekly gatherings at the Procession Art Studio where photographs of Corrie were hung in remembrance.
The block long procession of flapping, cooing and swirling doves was met by loud cheers and spirited applause as it made it’s way along the mile plus route through the heart of Olympia.
After the parade, a gathering was planned for Rachel in the Muslim tradition of remembrance on the 40th day of death. A day long fast was to be broken with a communal meal of soup and bread. A similar 40th day tribute was also held in Portland, OR on April 25th to “commemorate her life and commitment to justice and the Palestinian people.”