I was struck this year during the School of the Americas protest at the power of music in a movement that calls for justice and peace like the one to close down the School of the Americas (SOA). In the commissioning chapel service at Union on the Thursday before we left for the SOA, we shared stories and we broke bread together and we sang. We sang “This is My Song” we walked into the space together calling for “peace for lands afar and mine,” and to close the service and send all of us out into the world we clapped and danced and sang “I’m gonna lay down my sword and shield down by the riverside; ain’t gonna study war no more.”
With these songs in my heart and still on my lips we gathered with 2,000 others at the gates Ft. Benning, where we sang more songs together–songs of resistance and of sadness and of hope. In minor and major keys we cried out for justice, we remembered those who have died, and we envisioned peace.
¡No más! No more! We must stop the dirty war
Compañeros, compañeras we cry out ‘No más, no more’
Almost two weeks after the School of the Americas demonstration, I am still humming some of the songs we sang outside the gates of Ft. Benning, and the echoes of the chanted names of hundreds of victims still ring in my ears. Neither the words nor the tunes are happy or light ones that I especially want to go around singing as I walk to class and go to the grocery store and share meals in my community. But the somber tones of the songs and chants stay with me and remind me to remember the feeling of hope I felt at the protest and to resist violence and imperialism in small and big ways, and to hold in my heart those who are victims of the violence of the SOA and those who are jailed for standing against it.