Things of military
Walking is a subject that is always straying
(Solnit 2001, 8).
On September 8th, 2018, the weather is warm, but the sky is cloudy. I watch intently how students of the 105th cadet course of the Finnish Defence University march as one body. One hundred and sixty-three pairs of feet stomping in sync. The rhythm is loud, and captivating. The sound changes when the surface changes from sand to gravel, yet the rhythm persists.
I am touched by that rhythm as it runs through my body. Rhythms are pleasing in themselves, but when military bodies move in rhythm more is moving than just them. This timed marching is a visual theater, thick with meaning. The marching bodies come to a standstill in a formation, at arm’s length from each other. When the lines are straight, a silence follows. We are at a military cemetery. They are facing the grave of Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (1867-1951), who led the Whites in the Finnish Civil War (1918-1919), was the commander-in-chief in Finland’s defence forces during the Second World War and acted as the sixth President of Finland (1944-1946).
The symmetry of the crowd, the timing, and the trained precision of body movements reveal a rehearsed choreography. This is how an organised crowd works: at a simple shout, everyone knows what to do. We could call this crowd a troop, but cadets are both.