An Epic Day in Washington, D.C.
In the aftermath (afterglow?) of what was indisputably an epic, historic day, we feel exhilarated and tired. By “we,” I mean hundreds of thousands of people who converged on our nation’s capitol for what was, in my opinion, a march in defense of our national moral character. Everything is at risk: the environment, human rights of all sorts, immigration, social justice, anything and everything that so many have fought for over the course of my lifetime. I worry. And by all appearances, I have cause to worry. This is why I was there. These are the reasons why I marched.
We arrived with signs (and, oh, were there signs!) and resolve, plus slight trepidation about what it might be like if anything went awry. (The night before, my group discussed contingencies, and I wrote in Sharpie on my forearm the words “ICE” for “in case of emergency” and a phone number for who to call should I get into difficulty). We joined legions of people wearing pink hats of every shade, each with cat ears–a quiet reference to “pussy,” as in Mr. Trump’s earlier commentaries.
It was the largest protest march in history, they say. Of any sort, for any reason. Speaking as someone who was there, it was amazing for its character: polite, kind, tolerant. In my experience, people were (without exception) ready to work with others to make space, to grant passage, to lift one another up. It was amazing. In the evening after people had largely dissipated, the garbage piles were neat and litter almost non-existent. A half million? A million? The numbers are disputed. It felt like a million or more, but they were, to a person, my people. My friends and neighbors and people I’d like to know better. There were, I later found out, rare isolated examples where people sought to incite violence, yet no one was arrested.
We just wanted to be there, to be counted, to show that, in the wake of a shift in the balance of power that had gone in a direction that astonished and dismayed us, we had awakened and were ready to respond.
The march on Washington (and the marches that occurred in cities throughout the world in solidarity to the central march) was for real. It was an amazing, inspirational, and brilliant experience that must – will – have repercussions. Just wait.