A Buddhist monk from Thailand may be the first representative of his religious order to walk across the United States.
Pra Sutham Nateetong, arriving in Kittanning yesterday morning, said his message was simple: he walks for world peace.
Nateetong, 57, started his 3,000 mile journey in California on March 1 and is hoping to arrive at the Statue of Liberty in New York City by June 30.
Along the way, parishioners from the local area and as far away as Pittsburgh provided food and housing for the monk. Many joined him for a mile or more of his walk, supporting his desire for peace and unity.
Yesterday morning, Nateetong started out in Clearfield Township, Butler County and made his way along Route 422 into downtown Kittanning. He walked through Kittanning Riverfront Park and joined a local group of supporters at one of the gazebos for an authentic Thai lunch. He then continued his travels north on Routes 66/28/85.
“No matter what religion we believe, we all want peace and happiness,” the monk said through his representative. “Why don’t we all create peace together! In the world nowadays, humans are being more selfish, greedy, hatred, war, killing, genocide. This Thai Buddhist Monk sacrifices his pain and suffering to promote world peace.”
The United States is not his first journey. He has walked from Thailand to Vietnam, Malaysia, India, and Japan. He plans to walk through France during his next journey.
In addition to his theological training, Nateetong holds degrees in law and public administration from Thammasat University and Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.