Monday, 19 November 2012

Indiana Journey of Hope 2013

Back Home Again In Indiana

Monday, November 19, 2012 
By: Bill Pelke

“Back Home Again In Indiana”
By Ballard MacDonald and James F. Hanley, 1917
Verse One
I have always been a wand’rer
Over land and sea
Yet a moonbeam on the water
Casts a spell o’er me
A vision fair I see
Again I seem to be

Back home again in Indiana,
And it seems that I can see
The gleaming candlelight, still shining bright,
Through the sycamores for me.
The new-mown hay sends all its fragrance
From the fields I used to roam.
When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash,
Then I long for my Indiana home.

Verse Two
Fancy paints on mem’ry’s canvas
Scenes that we hold dear
We recall them in days after
Clearly they appear
And often times I see
A scene that’s dear to me

Dear Folks,
The Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing will be back home again in Indiana for our 20th anniversary in 2013. The Indiana Journey of Hope in 1993 was the inaugural event in our quest for worldwide abolition of the death penalty. On February 22-March 10, 2013 we will be conducting a limited Journey of Hope with a group of speakers traveling throughout the state of Indiana and into the Chicago land area.

This Indiana Journey will be very personal for me. I was born and raised in Indiana. I retired from Bethlehem Steel in Northwest Indiana. My kids, grandkids and great grandkids all live in Indiana.

My uncle Laverne used to take me to the Indianapolis 500 time trials when I was young. Jim Nabors has opened race day festivities for many years now with his rendition of ‘Back home again in Indiana’. I appreciate his sentiments more and more each time I hear him sing it.

I moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1999 and I love it here. I have met some of the most wonderful people in the world right here in Anchorage. Members of Alaskans Against the Death Penalty, First United Methodist Church, Alaska’s Amnesty International Program to Abolish the Death Penalty, the Alaska Innocent project, the Alaska ACLU and others have been very appreciative and supportive of the Journey of Hope. I love them all. But when I travel to Indiana I am back home again.

These Journey friends will be joining me in Indiana.

Randy Gardner is the vice-chairman of the Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing Board of Directors. Randy’s brother Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad in Utah about two and a half years ago. Randy will be sharing his family’s story. The Journey has provided a platform for Death Row Family Members since 1993.

Terri Steinberg will be there. Terri’s son Justin was sentenced to Death by the State of Virginia under the ‘murder for hire’ law. I am convinced that Justin is innocent. But innocence aside, I cannot understand why our society insists on inflicting this kind of pain on mothers like Terri. The Journey totally supports Terri as she campaigns for worldwide abolition of the death penalty. The state of Virginia wants to kill her son and we want him to live.

Randy Steidl will be joining the Journey of Hope for the first time. Randy was sentenced to death by the State of Illinois and was eventually able to prove his innocence. Randy is active member of Witness to Innocence and as a resident of a neighboring state, Randy said he would be happy to be part of this Indiana Journey. The Journey of Hope has enabled many exonerees to share their stories. These stories have inspired thousands upon thousands of people around the world. Juan Melendez, Shujaa Graham, Curtis McCarty, Ray Krone, Randall Dale Adams, Delbert Tibbs, Greg Wilhoit, Sunny Jacobs and many other exonerees have shared the Journey stage.

Bess Klaussen-Landis will be back home again in Indiana too. In 1969 Bess’s mother, Helen Klaussen, was murdered in Elkhart, Indiana. Bess will share the journey that she and her sisters have been on. She will talk about the private fears that this sort of unsolved crime creates. She has served as a board member of the Journey of Hope and has spoken at Journey events around the country. Bess is a school teacher in Vermont and has written and recorded two albums, Beauty So Close and Way up in Vermont. Bess says that the Journey of Hope helped her find her voice. It is a powerful voice, a voice of love.

George White is a cofounder of the Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing and recently rejoined the Journey of Hope board of directors. George and his wife Charlene were shot in 1985 at George’s place of business in Enterprise, Alabama. George survived, Char died in his arms. In this country, do we convict people for crimes they didn’t commit? Ask George what his family thinks about that when he joins our weekend events. George is now living in northwest Indiana and works for CR England.

The Purpose of this Journey is Threefold

  1. Help support the growth of the Indiana Abolition Coalition. We will raise the awareness of IAC, help increase their data base, and to help them in their mission to build consensus to end the death penalty in Indiana through education, collaboration and activism.
  2. To raise support for a major Indiana Journey of Hope event October 4-20, 2013. We would travel the same trails we blazed so successfully in 1993. The dates would coincide with the World Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s Annual World Day Against the Death Penalty October 10, 2013. The African Journey of Hope to Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya took place during World Day activities in 2010. With world-wide support we can do this major event in October and it is our goal that the limited events in February and March bring about the needed attention and support for this to happen.
  3. Seize the Day. The time is definitely right. We are starting to win. What just happened in California a few days ago was remarkable. 47% voted to end the death penalty. The percentage was much lower during the California Journey of Hope in 1995. It shows what a huge role education plays in abolishing the death penalty.
The Journey of Hope has a great board of directors. Cofounders George White and SueZann Bosler join with me to serve with Jo Berry, Esther Brown, Reece Robert, Rais Bhuiyan, Rick Halperin and Randy Gardner. These dedicated abolitionists are all making this world a better place to live. Jasmin Jenni is our webmaster and lives in Switzerland. Jasmin’s contribution and that of her predecessor Gilles Denizot has been greatly appreciated. Thanks to you both for making the Journey stories more visible with a first class web site. Your volunteer work has been very important to the Journey’s success.

George White and I had the opportunity to meet with Doris Parlette and the Indiana Abolition Coalition board of directors in Columbus, Indiana on October 13. We presented the Journey of Hope’s vision of the major event in October 2013. The death penalty has been on decline in Indiana. In the late 1980’s there were about 40 people on death row. Now there are 14. Indiana doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to kill, unlike a few states I could name. There are dedicated people in Indiana who are organizing for abolition now.

As president and cofounder of the Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing, you can rest assured I am an abolitionist. I have served on the board of directors of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) since 1996, the board of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights (MVFHR) since 2005 and the board of Alaskans Against the Death Penalty since 1999. I am on the advisory board of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth (CFSY), Dream One World and Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty (PHADP). I am a cofounder of the Abolitionist Action Committee (AAC). The Journey will once again be a sponsor as the AAC hosts the 20th Annual Fast and Vigil in front of the United States Supreme Court June 29-July 2, 2013. I have never missed a day of these events since we began in 1994. I hope to see you in DC next year.

It was the State of Indiana that sentenced Paula Cooper to die in the electric chair on July 11, 1986 for the murder of my grandmother Ruth E. Pelke. Judge James Kimbrough’s decision that day changed my life. I didn’t realize how much until November 2, 1986. On this day, in a miraculous way, I learned the lessons of love and compassion and about the healing power of forgiveness.

I was able to visit with Paula last month after meeting with the Indiana Abolition Coalition. Paula will be released from the Rockville Correction Facility on July 17, 2013 and I will be back home again in Indiana to greet her at the gates of the prison when she is released. I believe in restorative justice.

Yes, Indiana is a special place to me. It is where I grew up. It is where my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and many friends lived. It was in Indiana that I that I got to know my grandmother, whom we all affectionately called Nana. It was through Nana’s life and death that I learned about love and compassion, I learned about healing power of forgiveness and I learned restorative justice should be our goal.
  1. Love and Compassion for All of Humanity
  2. The Healing Power of Forgiveness
  3. Restorative Justice
The Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing has also adopted these tools for our abolition work. The Journey of Hope needs your help to help to spread these seeds of love and compassion for all of humanity. Because of you the Journey of Hope has been sowing this seed for over 20 years. We have seen this precious seed grow, mature and bring forth fruit. Can you help us sow more seed?

We need your help

Can you make a donation?
Can you organize some events?
Can you host a fundraiser for the Journey?
Would you like to be a Journey intern?
Can you think of something you could do to help make a Journey a success?

Please call me at 877-9-24GIVE (4483) toll free USA or 907-929-5808 for international calls. You can also email me The Journey has no staff, we are all volunteers. We have no major funding. We need your help!

We know we will be successful but the degree of our success in Indiana and around the world is up to you.
I can’t wait to get back home again in Indiana.

Back home again in Indiana
And it seems that I can see
The gleaming candlelight still shining bright
Thro' the sycamores for me
The new mown hay sends all its fragrance
From fields I used to roam
When I dream
About the moonlight on the Wabash
Then I long for my Indiana home

Donate Now. Thank you for your support. God Bless You!!