In 1976, a group of Sri Chinmoy's students participated in a 50 state relay to celebrate the ideals on which America was founded. Here are some extracts from the brochure for that initiative, along with some media coverage the event garnered:
"A Bicentennial Offering:
- Non-stop, Round-the-clock, Relay Run Through All 50 States
- 27 Runners
- 8,800 Miles
- 46 Days
- Carrying a Flaming Torch to Symbolize the Rekindling of Spiritual Values and Human Ideals Upon Which (our) Country Was Founded
"We are a group of young men who share a deep love and concern for America. We see the American Bicentennial as the symbol of a new dawn and a timely inspiration for all Americans to rededicate themselves to the deeper spiritual values and human ideals upon which our country was founded. Further, we see our nation as having tremendous opportunity and responsibility in the coming years to inspire goodness, truth and self-sacrifice in the hearts of all mankind.
"Thus, it is to draw attention to these spiritual ideals imparted to us by our founding fathers two-hundred years ago that we have undertaken this run.
"In January, members of Liberty Torch ran a 360 mile, non-stop relay from New York through Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. They carried a flaming torch and passed many of the historical and Revolutionary landmarks along the way. The closing ceremony was held at the Washington Monument where the runners were officially received by Casey Conrad, the President's Advisor on Physical Fitness. Mr. Conrad read a letter from President Ford commending the Liberty Torch runners for the part they were playing in laying the cornerstone of America's third century."
Burghardt, Dee. "They Carried A Torch For Their Country's Greatness." The New Haven Register. Monday, November 29, 1976.
When the heartbeat of a country is touched anything can happen.
The heartbeat of America was touched this summer and it pumped new life into many people. Mayors in small towns got up in the wee morning hours to prepare huge breakfasts, editors almost missed deadlines, CBers thought they were going nuts and hundreds of people in the nation got up and ran. And while some simply stood and wept with happiness, other tried to give money away.
Valerio, Joseph. "Carrying a Torch for America's Values." New York Post. August 17, 1976.
...After 51 days, after logging 8800 miles through all 50 states with the torch constantly moving through the countryside, the Liberty Torch Run had ended in a blaze of glory.
'This is a year in which it seems as though everybody is running...for something,' Mayor Beame told a hundred flag-wavers and white-collar workers. 'They did it as a way of celebrating our country's 200 years of expanding freedom. They wanted to show how America's spiritual values have been rekindled.'
No Politician ever spoke truer words...in any election year. This was the perfect footnote to America's bicentennial Celebration...
"Liberty Torch Troupe Back After a Long Run." The New York Times. Tuesday, August 27, 1976.
'Look at them coming down the street, aren't they wonderful?' said a deeply tanned Mayor Beame, who proclaimed yesterday 'Liberty Torch Day.'
The Sedan Times-Star (Kansas). Wednesday, July 14, 1976.
There are times when we all doubt. We doubt the future, we doubt our abilities, we doubt if the bicentennial means anything, we doubt our leaders, and so on and on.
But a society that produces young men - 22 to 36 - who dream up a thing like Liberty Torch, and then set out to carry it out with money from their own pockets, has to have some good in it - very much good in it for that matter...
But as long as there are people like those who are relaying the Liberty Torch on foot through the 48 states, and by air to Alaska and Hawaii, on their own because it seems to be a good idea in a Bicentennial year, we think things are going to continue to go on for a long, long time.
The following words are from a song Sri Chinmoy wrote to honor America: