When need presses upon it, this country marches. From Washington’s March across the Delaware to the Woman’s Suffrage Procession of 1913, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 Birmingham Campaign, so many Vietnam War protests, the Million Man March, and more, always more. When our liberty is threatened, we do not lie down to sleep.
On Jan. 21, my friend Lynn and I arrived on the periphery of the Women’s March on Washington and began to work our way toward the march route, Independence Avenue. We couldn’t see it through the crowd but we knew what direction to take, and we moved, with unerring purpose, through a slow but powerful river of hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children.
Never back, always forward
It wasn’t easy. When we couldn’t penetrate the solid banks of the river, we detoured around them to find narrow passages; we went sideways, climbed walls with the help of other marchers, but always with our goal of getting to Independence. Never back, always forward. We were one of many, many tributaries flowing into this human river, from every direction, arriving on airplanes, buses, trains, Metro, and cab. Heading for Independence.
The irony was not lost on me as I saw our massive force moving inexorably forward, as so many millions before us in our nation’s 241-year history had to forge the way to independence. That history is not going to end in 2017. We will not allow it.
The crowd was ecstatic, the chants were exhilarating — “We are the popular vote” was my favorite — the signs were inspiring, affirming, often amusing. Lynn and I were far from the speakers, but when we could hear them for a few moments at a time, we heard energy, stout-heartedness, love for each other and our country. We heard America.
Joy and unity
Finally, we trickled into the heart of the river of marchers on Independence. And shortly we heard thunder. We turned and saw a women’s drum corps approaching, setting a beat of purest joy and unity. As they passed, my heart was near to bursting. And I knew we will be victorious in this good and peaceful fight, one of so many our country has waged in pursuit of independence and equality and in resistance to the forces of tyranny and hate.
We know there is much to be done. The march was our launch; now we pilot the ship. Now we begin the work.
Mary Chasin is from Crystal.
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