A couple of train stories to start this post:

1) Years ago I mentioned to Joanna that I’d never had an electric train as a boy. The next Christmas, I got a small battery-powered version that still sits on a 1950s-era television set in my office.

2) Joanna and I always thought train travel would be romantic, and we have friends who love to travel that way. So a few years ago we decided to travel to Chicago via Amtrak. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to leave Spokane via train without leaving in the middle of the night — and a reported derailment somewhere else down the line kept us from pulling out of the station until about 4 a.m. A surly conductor and a crowded train made an already long trip seem interminable. The return trip was much better, but not enough to convince us to ever again ride the rails for much more than from New York to Washington, D.C.

But obviously we will ride the “Peace Train.” After the Iraq War began in 2003, I wore a black armband as a symbol of protest and mourning for the U.S. soldiers and Iraqis who would die senselessly. A “NO WAR” sign that was posted in our front yard before that war began now hangs on my office wall.

With the need for peace in the world, it seems somehow appropriate that “Peace Train” was written and sung by a guy named Cat Stevens during the Vietnam War — a guy who would become a Muslim named Yusuf Islam. Lyrics here, with video below.