Today I attended what I think will be my last anti-war demonstration
for a while. It was a simple affair, a candlelight vigil
for peace held at 20 different locations around Columbus, Ohio
. I chose a spot near my home, grabbed a candle
and took off.
The warm spring weather, so different from my last protest encouraged a turnout and the intersection was dotted with hundreds of little golden flames. Someone gave me a light, and cup to catch the wax, then I walked along hoping to find someone I knew.
Music is common at such rallies. Usually there is someone strumming a guitar and plinking out Country Joe and the Fish, Phil Ochs or some other protest music. There was and I walked onward looking for friends.
I came upon a slight man standing upon a wall, playing the violin. He was playing Brahms and playing it beautifully. I soon recognized him as Charles Weatherbee the concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. I abandoned my search for friends and planted myself and my candle right there.
The violin is an instrument capable of extraordinary delicacy and emotion, and in the hands of a violinist of soloist quality, the sound was touching. We stood there listening to the beautiful music, lit by golden candlelight and passing headlights of cars as Weatherbee played sweet, sad music.
As we stand upon the doorstep to war it seemed appropriate. A violin is capable of great power, but it can also weep. Weatherbee was making it sing and cry. War is not a time for bravado, though there is much of it. It is a time for sad, sober reflection upon the path to be tread. As I felt the melodies run through me, I felt not as though I were at a protest, but a place of worship, sharing a moment of peace before the storm.
This moment will likely be brief. Unless a miracle occurs, I expect war will come with 48 hours. Soon the bombs will fall and the tanks will roll. And if we're very unlucky, clouds of poison gas will flow across the desert. Death will ride his pale horse.
I will put away my signs and candles when the war begins. I will root for the home team, not out of any conviction in our foreign policy but because I see swift victory as the best way to salvage something out of a bad hand. But my reflections will continue in front of the television or listening to the radio. I will follow the action and briefings closely, all the while longing for the sad, delicate tones of a single violin.