I Was There: Women’s March 2017

I need to write it all down before I forget a moment of my walk inside American history. The signs. The faces. The feeling of being part of something great, this Constitution, which Trump’s election taught me I love more than my life. In going to the march, I thought I might be risking my life. Honestly, before leaving, I thought I might not see my freshly painted home again. I was dreading the march, but knew that I had to go. It’s all about integrity. You stand by what you believe in or you are empty.

As it turned out the KKK, Nazis, and assorted deplorables I expected never showed up, or at least left their cause to a single flatbed truck with giant letters T-R-U-M-P that drove slowly across the crowd at the end of the route. Big, brash, and threatening given recent terrorist attacks, it disappeared into a sidesteeet. Given the mood, the crowd would have walked over and around it, careful not to topple the letters.

There were marchers as far as the eye could see — at one point at the intersection of three wide Washington streets. Tributaries of pink hats merging into one wonderful pink sea. We passed buildings we normally see on national news or in history books. Beloved neoclassical marvels of grace and rational thought.

Bystanders both participated with signs of their own and cheered us onward. These were the chants.

As we left the mall, a song: “This Land Is My Land, This Land Is Your Land.”

One group asks “What does democracy look like?” A second group responds “This is what democracy looks like.”

Everyone chants “We need a real leader, not a crazy tweeter.”

At the Trump hotel that used to be a federal building: “Shame, Shame, Shame.”

“Black lives matter,” over and over.

I remember bits and pieces of other chants: “Immigrants are welcome.” “Dump Trump.”

Most of the signs were handmade and very creative. I remember:

“Demonstrating is patriotism.”
“The unpresident” with a picture of ….. him.
“Orange lives don’t matter.”
“Don’t tread on me,” a reference to an early American flag. In place of the snake in the center field was a uterus.”
“This pussy bites.”
“We’ve been protesting this shit for hundreds of years.”
“Free Melania”
“Keep your little hands out of my uterus.”
“Science matters.”
“Make America think again.”
“I’m with her,” a reference to Hilary’s campaign slogan but with arrows pointing everywhere.
References to Trump’s treasonous relationship with Putin. Drawings of Trump and Putin kissing. Another was a French play on words: “Trump L’Oeil” with drawing of Trump turning into Putin.
“Girls just want to have fun…..ding for Planned Parenthhood.
“Ignored facts don’t go away.”
A very large paper mache earth (carried by a crowd) referencing Trump’s failure to understand and act on dangerous environmental issues.

My “sign” was my pocket Constitution. I held it high. It was my main reason for marching. I believe Trump is a threat to our Constitution, and in particular the First Amendment. America is not an ethnic group, a flag, a place, or even a language. It is this document I love.

The march was peaceful. One woman leaned into a police car offering food. “Are you hungry?” she asked the officers. I was in a group that walked around a police cruiser. As we wound to the rear, we noted the police men were police women and we all cheered. They acknowledged us with wide smiles.

Every moment was exhilarating as I unabashedly, loudly stood with and for values of liberal, progressive, inclusive politics — the same that brought us social security, public education, equal rights, environmental protection, and unemployment insurance,and moved us toward universal healthcare.

I will remember every mesmerizing moment, but most particularly, toward the end of the march, the first time I saw the size of the crowd behind me. When you are in that large a gathering, your view is very small. A circumference of maybe 10 feet. Finally we turned a corner, and there was an incline in the road, on which people stopped, looked behind them, and snapped pictures. When I got to there, I too turned around. The mass of people along the mall stretched as far as you could see. About 200 feet away, it merged with another mass to my left. I bent forward, shoved my arm up in a victory salute, and said “Yes!” Many people were applauding.

This image will stay with me until the day I die.

FAQs (Here I interview myself.)
Q Is it true all the marchers were lesbians?
A I am not a lesbian and I am not in the habit of asking strangers about their sexual preferences. I will say that none of the 500,000 to 1 million women in the March would sleep with Trump. Maybe to him that is a lesbian. I frankly would call it taste.

Q Is it true that the press exaggerated the numbers and that there were only a couple thousand participants.
A No way. A couple thousand would not cripple the transportation system. Even though we had tickets, we couldn’t fit on the MARC train into D.C. Trains kept passing by full. The line just to get on the platform extended to the taxi drop off. I asked the MARC guy at the station about going in the opposite direction into Baltimore, but he said there were 3000 people waiting there and to forget it. We had to take an Uber into town for $180, and then we walked blocks to the Capitol. We could not get near enough to the rally to hear the speakers. The wait for the Porto potties was one hour.

Q Why didn’t you vote?
A I was with two other adults. We all voted. I was a voltunteer for Hilary. As for the other million or so, consider this. Would people civic-minded enough to travel sometimes thousands of miles (among those I met, from California, Oklahoma, Alabama, West Virginia, Ohio), sleep on a friend’s couch, take a bus at 3 a.m., or stay miles away like we did, then spend a day in the damp cold without food, decent plumbing, or a place to sit down other than the muddy ground and a few benches, and finally wait hours for a return train, would these people forgo voting?

Q Aren’t you all just whining, sore losers? Accept the election.
A The march was peaceful and far more respectful of Trump than he ever was of us. We accept the election, but we oppose and will continue to oppose policies that do not reflect our moral, political, and religious values. We will express opposition by protesting, contributing to causes in which we believe, and supporting candidates who will develop progressive policies. We will defend those whose Constitutional rights are threatened. This is not whining. This is taking action. This is democracy. This is patriotism.