They are two walkers with different routes but the same result: achievement. And each achievement represents a milestone. George Meegan walked across the globe from the tip of South America to the Arctic Ocean; no one ever had done that before.
Vanessa Williams walked down an indoor runway and won the Miss America title; no black ever had done that before.
Mr. Meegan called his walk ''a celebration of freedom.'' He said he had done it without funds or commercial sponsorship, and that it was made possible by '' 10,000 acts of kindness shown me by the people of this world.'' His reason for walking the length of the Western Hemisphere, the British merchant seaman said, was that no one ever had.
When he was through he had stepped off 19,021 miles in nearly seven years. It may be the farthest anyone ever has walked in one journey. His plan now is to return to Britain (though not on foot).
Miss Williams's victory also is a stride across many miles and years. It is one more symbolic example of the recently won freedom of blacks and whites to relate as individuals, whatever one may think of a beauty pageant's relevance to life's more important challenges. Blacks now are free to enter beauty contests alongside whites with hopes of winning. White judges now are free to select them as winners to represent white as well as black young women.
Black leaders and President Reagan immediately hailed her selection as opening doors for blacks in yet another area. Miss Williams also properly made plain that she should be regarded as an individual rather than merely as a representative of a race. Her desire is to have a Broadway career following completion of college.
These are two individuals of perseverance and accomplishment who deserve the plaudits they are receiving.