On Saturday, January 21, 2017, I jumped in my car and drove to Rapid City, South Dakota, to be a part of the Women’s March. This was important to me for more reasons than I can express, but I will try to touch on some of them here.
I marched for my one-year-old daughter. May she grow up in an America that wants to see women succeed. A society that has affordable healthcare, birth control, reproductive rights, paid maternity leave, and equal pay for women. A country that recognizes that people who are LGBTQ+ are equal under the rights provided us by our constitution. All are created equal.
I marched for my three-year-old son. May he get to be a part of that same country. May he be an ally for women and may he, in turn, benefit from that.
May both of my children be caring, empathetic individuals who see injustice in the world and know how to show love for all people, regardless of their background.
I marched for my students. I want them to know that everything I have taught them in class is true. My students are dumbfounded when we discuss slavery. They ask why. They are confused when we talk about the suffragist movement and women fighting for the right to vote. They don’t get it when we discuss the Civil Rights era, and see photographs of people using different water fountains, bathrooms, restaurants, and swimming pools. It doesn’t make any sense to them, because they know the world is better than that. They know that Malala Yousefzai was shot in Pakistan trying to fight for rights of girls to get an education. This also makes no sense to them. Why are there places in the world where girls don’t have the right to an education? I assure them it makes no sense to me either. A couple years ago while watching the news with one of my classes, the anchor started to talk about the pay gap between men and women who were doing the same job. One of my students, a girl, came running up to me to repeat the statistic. She was baffled and I knew I had no good answer to provide her. I teach them they are equal and they can do anything they want to do, but when they hear that may not be true, they simply cannot understand.
Since I started teaching in 2010, I have had a sign on my door saying “Everyone is welcome here, everyone belongs.” I believe this to be true, and this is why I marched.
Our country has grown to be better because of the people who stood up. People who peacefully marched. That is what happened on the day of the Women’s March. Over five million women and men around the world, in cities large, small, and tiny, peacefully came together to march for equality. We want to live in a world where people are treated equally. This is why I marched.
“THE SALVATION OF THE STATE IS THE WATCHFULNESS OF THE CITIZENS” – a quote from Alexander Hartley Burron on the edifice of the Nebraska State Capitol building.
I walked because in the richest nation on earth no one should have to go without the health care they need.
I walked because I don’t want our Grandson or anyone’s grandsons, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, parents have to fight a war that was started by a President that listens only to a chosen few who have no expertise at the same time refusing to listen to those who do.
I walk because I want a President that obeys the Constitution. One example: divest himself of his financial interest.
I walk because I want a President that believes in the rule of law.
I walked because I don’t want parents to have the difficult task of convincing their children that they should not bully, disparage, or call people names when the President of our nation has and continues to do so.
I walked because I want a president that does not rain disrespect and retribution on those who do not agree with him.
I walked because I want a President who is respectful of our neighboring countries, friends and allies.
I walked because I want a government that is respectful and accepting of all people no matter their skin color or their religion.
I walked because I want a government that understands that global warming is in fact true and the results will be catastrophic for our children and grandchildren.
I walked because money is not speech and corporations are not people.
I walked because I do not want a Governor using his independent wealth to politicize the Unicameral and get elected only people that are beholden to him.
I walked because the Unicameral is being pushed to becoming a partisan body instead of a body that works together for the good of all Nebraskans.
I walked because I want a government, both state and national, that works for the good of its citizens not the wealthy and corporations.
I walked because I want a government that protects the citizens, not corporations, and works to do for the people what they can not do for themselves.
I walked because I want a government that wants its citizens to have clean air, clean water, safe food, safe transportation, etc.
I walked because privatization is not the answer to our schools, our road system, our postal system, etc.
I walked because a woman should have the right to make her own decisions concerning her body.
I walked for my husband and all those others who could not make the march but would have been there if it had not been for their circumstances.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” – Edmon Burke
I march because our democratic republic, with its three branches of government, is intended to function as a check and balance on each institution. I recognize those checks and balances no longer function as they are intended when the politics of party override the good of the nation. I fear a Congress that walks in lock step with a president who ignores the Constitution. Rules appear to only apply if it benefits a party preference. Case in point, the rejection of Marrick Garland for the Supreme Court. In a year’s time, he could not even get a hearing.
I march because Congress is ramming through grossly unqualified candidates for cabinet positions. Just to name a few; Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education and Rick Perry, with a degree in animal husbandry to head the Department of Energy. Goldman Sachs, I believe, has 6 representatives in the Trump regime. How is this draining the swamp? The hypocrisy is overwhelming. We are hurling towards a dictatorship.
I march because I have three relatives that have health insurance because of the ACA. One is disabled. Another is taking care of a wife with Alzheimer’s 24/7 and is in poor health himself. You are taking their health care away from them without an alternative plan in place. I am on Social Security and Medicare and you want to mess with that. If you think the protest marches are large now, just wait till the gray hairs join in. Retiring from an elementary school in a disadvantaged neighborhood, I know charter schools are not the answer. They will be left behind.
I march for an investigation into the failed Yemen raid. Will it be as vigorously investigated as Benghazi? Was Trump really eating his dinner when he authorized the raid and not in the Situation Room? An unconstitutional ban on immigration from 7 Muslim countries does not keep us safe. It is an optic of weakness and fear and has made this nation a continued target of hatred. Trump will continue to isolate himself as he did not go to Harley Davidson because he was afraid of protest. Protests will continue and he will isolate himself in his bedroom tweeting at 3 in the morning because he is a coward. My dad fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War 11. My husband was a Marine in Viet Nam and suffered from PTSD all his life. In large part, a reason for the failure of our marriage.
I march, I call, I e-mail. Most of my representatives mailboxes are full. I hope they are full because of protest but sometimes I feel they are full because our representatives simply don’t want to talk to us. We, the people, are speaking through our marches and will be speaking in the next election. Our numbers are large and growing. The marches only energize us, we see the millions that share our values but the most important reason I march is to say to the world, “America is not Donald Trump and the lock step Republican Party.”
I asked myself and others “why march?” many times before actually deciding to do it. After the election I was shocked, upset, disconnected, angry, sad and just generally overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed. A march sounded good. But I wasn’t sure it would address the responsibility I felt to my children, my family, my community and my country to address the consequences of the presidential election. I wanted to stand up for justice and truth – but I wasn’t sure if a march would make a lasting difference. Marching might make me feel better, but would my energy and effort be better spent elsewhere? Ultimately I decided to march. I marched because I believe it is important to treat all people with respect. I believe in the Constitution and the freedoms that come with it. I care about people with disabilities. I marched for the many women in our country who know first-hand about sexual assault and sexual harassment, and specifically for those women who bravely told their truths during the election for the entire world to hear and then watched as their country elected him anyway. I marched because I believe immigrants and refugees have made and will continue to make our country strong. I marched because I want my elected officials to know that I value equal rights for ALL. I marched because I am worried about how the policies of the new administration will impact healthcare, the rights of the LGBT community, women, immigrants, the environment and education. I marched because I’m scared and because I care deeply. Now more than ever I want to be an active and engaged citizen. For me that means marching, writing my elected officials, praying, thinking, reading, and staying engaged. I commit to all that. And I will never again think twice again about marching. It was one of the more positive, cathartic, and energizing things I have done.