And the children marched on in my dream.
I was a soldier in the best equipped military the world had ever known. We were in Belgium, maybe Holland. There were German soldiers, but they were on the other side of a group of civilians who were all sitting in their lawn chairs facing us. It was as if they were watching to see what we would do. As we advanced, we stayed on the edge of these people. We were very disciplined. None of us were trigger happy, and we were not going to start shooting civilians. At first I was weaving through the people in lawn chairs near the edge. The looks on their face were “we have been through this before and you have no idea what you are doing.” I moved to the edge, because I knew the soldiers on the other side were not using these people as their shields either. On this, both sides agreed.
As we slowly creped, low to the ground, where we knew the other soldiers were, a children’s marching band had formed with all kinds of instruments. They started playing and marching and when they got to the people in lawn chairs, they started marching through them. They were disorganized, as if they had not been trained or coached to do this, but had decided to do it on their own. There were trombones and drums and cymbals, and other instruments too, and the children marched slowly in crooked lines, starting and stopping and in an uneven pace. This children’s band had a choir too! And the crowd began to laugh as they sang. It was not our language, so we couldn’t understand. I did not feel like they were laughing at us, well, maybe at first. After a while I could sense the children were telling a funny story through their song, maybe that these people from a foreign land had heard before. Or they were telling insider stories about past follies of grown-ups. Theirs was a joyful noise, but we were soldiers still intent on our mission: to find and engage the enemy.
I moved to the side of a road, and a little embankment, thinking that I was going to get gunned down because the other soldiers had moved across the road to ambush us. But they were not there. They were not where our intel had shown they would be, the place where we had even seen them with our own eyes. They were gone. And in their place, as we stood around not knowing what to do, I had a sense that they had made a different choice this time. They had decided not to go down this path again, and had gone home. They took the path less travelled, and did not engage us. I remember thinking: hmm… “they are doing things differently.” We stood around in our state-of-the-art gear and weapons, and did not know where to go or what to do. And on that day, there was no battle. Not a shot was fired and the battle was over and the peace had been won.
And the children marched on in their makeshift band. Spreading their laughter wherever they went.