Peace Walk

Mark Kelsey

Jane Collins ’71, a staff assistant in the Harvard College Deans Office, led our group silently from the Yard into the street. She knew the route well, as she has been walking every Wednesday during her lunch break for years.

When I signed up for the Harvard-Cambridge Walk for Peace, I did not have many expectations. I was however, expecting more than four other people to show up. The fact that there were more tourists meeting at the John Harvard Statue than walkers was disconcerting. Out of the six of us, only two were students: the Crimson photographer and myself.

We must have looked like an odd bunch: Collins, a veteran, two elderly women, and two students following along. Yet as we waited patiently for the stoplight to change, no one seemed to see us.

Students walked past and turned their heads in the opposite direction. Men in suits dragging leather briefcases paused in conversation but did not acknowledge the mismatched group begging for peace.

I was starting to think that I had grown invisible when one street performer gave us a shout out. “Let’s make some peace waves,” he said. “War is not the answer.”

The performer, draped in a suit of random instruments and stuffed animal monkeys, played the harmonica while singing, “Let it Be.”  He was a regular. I’d seen him before. Or rather, I’d pretended not to see him before. Usually, I would look away or check the time on my cellphone, but not this time. This time I gave him a smile.

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