Friday, February 09, 2007
The Gulf Between
Way back when I was in high school, a select few activist students planned a walk out to protest the recent gulf war.
I think we all thought it was a good idea, but weren't sure about the conscequences.
The day came, and the teachers were aware. However, the school made a formal announcement over loudspeakers, prohibiting students from leaving, and making it clear that faculty were not to encourage us in any way. As fearful seniors on the cusp of college, we were paralyzed for our own futures enough to let it sway us into attending class instead.
My parents, who took me to a nuclear protest at the age of 2 years old, would have avidly supported any said walk out, I was sure...but I didnt tell them none the less, nor did I plan on defying the all powerful prinicpal. It was the fear.
As we sheepishly sat in Physics and the bell rang, my teacher stood up in front of the class and said...
" I cannot condone the walk out. I have been told to do so would cause me to lose my job. However..."
He paused for dramatic effect...
"...My brother went to Vietnam."
He looked to the ceiling.
"And my brother died. And I didn't do anything."
To stunned silence, he covered his eyes with one hand, and flashed a peace sign with the other.
We sat still as stones.
"That means GO!" he said.
We, one by one, got up and left.
When the rest of the classes saw the crowd outside through the windows, they gathered up their courage and joined us. The entire school walked out.
We protested all day past the end of classes. We made picket signs with cheerleader paint that said "MAKE LOVE NOT WAR!" They said "NO DRAFT" and "HONK FOR PEACE." We held hands, made up songs, and chanted "Hell no, we wont go!" We stood on the Main Street corners and waved at cars, amazed and cheering every time one of those cars honked for peace. They were us, we were them, the generation divide overcome.
But at the end of the day, nobody really cared. Nobody got in trouble. Nothing was really done. The war in the gulf still went on, and we didn't stop it. But I guess we sort of felt better that we did something, instead of nothing.
I never told my parents that I walked out of school. I assume they read it in the paper like everyone else. I assume they were proud.
As were all the teachers. As school let out, all of our professors drove past, and every single one honked for peace.
But our physics teacher honked the loudest.