Fantasia on freedom ... from war

Opinion: Columns

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Jerry Parker

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A medley of meditations, fresh from our just-past parade:

After our Fourth of July parade's ample smile-springing sights and its percussion symphony of happy clamor, I went home to my lawn chair in the shady cool. After a few breaths of deep quiet, I faced the part of July 4 not as carnival-like as the mostly merry parade.

I braced for the funeral corteges that were just about to breach the horizon of my mind's-eye. From horizon points at about 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock, processions slow as sadness moved across the distance.

Finally I could make out the banner-bearers' sign:

U.S. CASUALTIES:

AMERICAN REVOLUTION

4,435 BATTLE-DEAD!

6,188 WOUNDED! of

217,000 TOTAL U.S. FORCES

Two women, one old, one younger, carried the front of each casket. Two battle-survivor comrades of the slain dead carried the rear of each casket, feeling forlorn like a fatherless child.

When I turned to the second cortege, its sign was readable:

OUR 2 CURRENT U.S. WARS

BATTLE-DEAD U.S. TROOPS:

IN IRAQ: 4,469!

IN AFGHANISTAN: 1,650!

TOTAL: 6,119! ... AND COUNTING

When the two corteges halted in two parallel lines, they faced each other — the banner-bearers able to read each other's signs.

Then from one direction, a band of maybe 10,000 folksingers led by Pete Seeger on banjo, singing in harmony, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

In the opposite direction an equally large band of folksingers led by Bob Dylan on guitar and harmonica, waited until the crucial question was sung twice: "When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?"

Then as if to answer that question, Dylan's thousands sang, "Blowin' in the Wind" ... The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind ... The answer is blowin' in the wind."

Then the largest and most world-wide diverse group came. People of all ages, nationalities, religions, genders arranged for their answers to be blowing in the wind.

Then the conductor of the upcoming song stepped up to his place at the center of the huge circle. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, bowed to all and announced that Lorraine N. Finley had written an "International Hymn of Peace," and set it to Beethoven's majestic, thrilling "Ode to Joy" music from his Ninth Symphony. He raised his baton and set these lyrics to song:

Rise O Nations, rise together, Work for universal peace,

When the world becomes united, War and fear of war shall cease.

Peace will spread its wings restoring, Our misled and troubled Earth.

Stand O Nations, stand together, Firm against what we abhor;

Let our riches flow t'ward progress, Let there be no waste of war.

Then our efforts grown constructive, Shall build justice as they should,

Temples in our helpful spirit, Monuments to all things good

Sing, O Nations, sing together, Praise of our unfailing dream,

Love of home and truth and justice, Sing the one eternal theme.

Bury deep the wrong and evil, Gone the night of blood and tears;

Let our hard-won freedom triumph, Forward, friends, the dawn appears!

And they sang in ... Esperanto!

Jerry Parker has been an Oak Park resident since 1984, and a WJ subscriber forever.

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