What a week.
In one week, it’s all gone to hell, just as the majority of us expected.
Actually, I had hoped it wouldn’t happen this fast or this aggressively. But when I think about our POTUS inciting violence at his campaign rallies, I think we all should have known it would be like this.
That’s when I knew he was a disgusting human. When I saw him egging on supporters to physically assault people who didn’t agree with him, I knew he would be a monstrous President. And for one week, he has been.
I’m even more glad I marched in Washington after this week. We must stand up and speak up more now than ever. I was going to do three parts on the March, but there’s no time. There’s too much to fight right now, so I’ll put it all into this Part 2:
The March, Part 2: Women’s Rights Are Human Rights
After we arrived at RFK Stadium and saw the buses and the women in their pink hats, the adrenaline kicked in. We grabbed our granola bars, phones, coats and signs and headed to the March.
It was a cool, misty morning. We had gotten behind on the road, so we didn’t arrive until after 11:00 a.m. The rally was supposed to last until 1:00 so we thought we could make some of it. Our bus decided to mostly stay together, since we had an AJC photographer who was documenting our trip and needed to keep up with us. My friend Erika and I decided we didn’t want to get lost, so we stayed with the group. We tried to take the Metro to the March but were told there was a two-hour wait. So we walked the 30 minutes or so to the March.
I’m actually glad we did. It was exhilarating to be walking on the sidewalks of neighborhoods and have DC residents honking at us as they drove by, yelling their support out of their windows, standing in front of their homes with their kids and signs welcoming us and cheering for us. Not one person heckled us. The police officers directing traffic were high-fiving us and thanking us. I must say, I was not expecting that at all. They were all smiles after a tumultuous Inauguration Day and welcomed us with open arms.
The National Guard had troops placed along our route, alongside their Humvees and tanks. At first, that freaked me out. I said my share of prayers that their services would not be needed. As the day went on, they gave me great comfort and it felt wonderful to know that they were keeping us safe. I am so grateful to both the police and the National Guard for working that day and I told them so many times.
The river of marchers came to a stop when the Capitol came into view. Everyone wanted their picture taken, of course.
It was around this point that I had my one teary moment. A small group of Muslim women were standing to the side, holding a sign that said “Muslim Americans love the USA.” I thought about their day-to-day life in this country right now and it overwhelmed me. Because of extremists in their religion, they face so much hate by their own countrymen every single day. I thought of how frightening it must be. The March became real to me when I saw those women. I hope they had some peace seeing us all marching for them.
As we walked past the Capitol and neared the beginning of the March, the crowd came to a standstill. There were so many of us, we could not get anywhere near the rally. We did not hear a thing. We were bummed but also excited that that the attendance was so high. Signs for every cause were there. I saw people of every color. I saw every religion represented. I saw LGBTQ marchers. I saw immigrant marchers. I saw men. I saw disabled people. I saw young and old and in-between. I saw people from all over the country. I saw America. Some were surprised to see Georgia represented because we are a red state. Well, we changed their perception on that!
About this time, we couldn’t use our phones anymore. The crowds were so thick, service was nil which caused some anxiety. I am so phone dependent (aren’t we all?) that I hated to be cut off from the world. I couldn’t get any news or even find myself on Google maps. But my old-school skills kicked in…and we actually talked to people! News flash: You can actually get information from Real People!
The police men and women were invaluable. They gave us info that there were so many people on the March route, there was no way to actually march. They told us to go to a side street to march, so that’s what we did. Erika found a friend with Moms Demand Action- GA who had protested before, which was miraculous and a godsend because the crowd got so tight, we got separated from our bus group. Before we moved to the side street, I had my only panicky moment. The crowd was moving as a pack and everyone was wanting to move…it was only a few minutes, though, before we were able to get to the more spacious side street.
Once there, the March began for us. We marched side-by-side, chanting and holding our signs high. Erika’s sign was a major hit:
My sign, however, looked as if a toddler made it. LOL! (It’s what it says that matters, so bite me, ok?! :-))
As we marched, there were folks standing on the sidewalks, cheering us on, taking video, holding signs. It was a surreal moment and the energy was unlike anything I’ve ever felt or probably will ever feel again. All of the people really were pleasant and lovely. I didn’t encounter anyone that wasn’t peaceful or was out-of-line. I did hear that a friend’s Muslim relative witnessed another Muslim woman get beaten by a man on the Metro on the way to the March. The crowd was able to push the man off the train at a stop. The woman still went on to the March, God bless her. Her March blog would be very different from mine, and I acknowledge that fact. But my takeaway: we are not a country that beats Muslim women. We are a country that pushes the asshole off the train.
We marched for quite a while until the crowd came to a standstill. We had caught up with the March route and again, it was clogged because of so many people. At this point, we were hungry and beginning to worry we wouldn’t make it back to the bus on time. We talked with another policeman and found respite at L’Enfant Plaza and had a bite to eat and a restroom break. Lines were long, restaurants were running out of food, but it was a welcome sight to sit and take a break. Again, I was so appreciative of the exhausted restaurant workers and I made sure to tell them. Shout-out to Au Bon Pain for a wonderful tuna salad sandwich and Coke!
The last part of the day was getting the Metro and making it back to the bus, which we again figured out by asking police and other marchers. We did a lot of following the pink hats!
To sum up, for me, the March was a love fest. A response of the best American kind to a world of hate. Marchers helped marchers with info, marchers picked up marchers when they fell, marchers cheered on others’ signs and older marchers and disabled marchers (there were many). Marchers encouraged, supported, nurtured, took care of. I felt so much love that I couldn’t hate anymore. I needed this event more than anything to remind myself that love does win; it always wins because most of us believe in love. I actually felt sorry for Trump voters because they don’t get to feel this feeling. I want this for everyone. I want everyone to feel this kind of love. And I will continue to do my part and show up for love.
For the record, I marched in Washington for all of us. Even Republicans. Even Trump supporters. I marched for the rights of all Americans because we all deserve them. I see that as a big difference in the two sides. We want rights for everyone. You don’t. And, just because others have rights doesn’t mean you have less rights. No one will force you to get an abortion, or to marry a gay person, or to become Muslim. If our government tried to force you to do those things, I would march with you in protest.
I’m a heterosexual, white Christian woman. I marched for those like me and those not like me. I marched for homosexuals, I marched for African-Americans, I marched for Muslims, I marched for immigrants, I marched for disabled people and I marched for men. I did not march against you. I marched for you. I marched for everyone. I marched for love.