Snow was in the forecast, the wind strong and cold, as my friend (a retired teacher and school administrator) and I waited under the Schaumburg Town Square arch on Saturday morning for the suburban March for Our Lives march to begin. It started at nine o’clock sharp, led by a team of teens with purpose on their young faces. Before I took my first step, I was aware of the power of the moment.
We walked about a mile and ended up at a park. Along the way, people in passing cars honked their horns and waved. One dissenter, standing off to the side, held up a sign as we passed by. It read, “Ban Assault People.” No one, as far as I know, engaged him or challenged his right to voice his views.
Reaching the park, we were told by the youthful organizers to stay off the grass. To stop chanting, when thirty seconds of silence was observed to remember the seventeen victims of the Parkland school shooting. Respectfully, we obeyed. It gave me pause, filled me with pride, to see these young people take charge. Lead a crowd of 1,000. Introduce a Republican state senator and two other legislators, one who came with her teenage son. When she hugged him, my friend and I choked up before she even began to speak.
Most of all, it was the sight and sound of the teenagers who touched me the most. Like the young woman who ran for local office at the age of eighteen. The other teens, who used their impassioned voices to plead for something that I took for granted when I was a student: the right not to be gunned down at school.
Before the crowd dispersed, the March for Our Lives organizers left the crowd with a final message: Vote. Register today. We have a table up here ready to make that happen.
As my friend and I walked away, I looked again at the signs the marchers carried. Signs that expressed many sentiments. All worthy, all valid.
But, in my opinion, the March for Our Lives sends one clear message: this is about gun control. I worry that politicians or those with other agendas may try to sully or highjack that message. I hope not. Because this is the most honest, clear, and powerful message I’ve seen in a very long time. And it is the message of the youth. Americans, who protested and assembled in a lawful and peaceful way. Patriots, who want to make a positive change in America.
I think our forefathers would have been proud of them.
I am. And I was honored to be with them on Saturday.