We join our story already in progress…
The Reed family (that’s us) has been in line for about 45 minutes waiting for a food truck hot dog, pretzel, and apparently Ice Cream despite the chilly day. However, the wait has gone by quickly because we’ve made a friend. A teacher from Arizona, who was in town as a chaperone for a High School trip. She had shared many horrible stories about how students had taken on “locker room talk” and blatant racist attitudes since the election. Because of it, she has found herself questioning her profession. She had been trying to hold her ground but feared that students were merely repeating what they were hearing at home. So any discipline would only cause trouble. Her story helped me realize (again) how lucky we are to live in a blue bubble here in Chicago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are “locker room talking” families in our city but in large part, our area hasn’t experienced this type of blatant hate speak.
But you know what really endeared me to this young lady? She carried an obvious heart of gold. When my kids returned to remind me how long it was taking, she was quick to share some fruit leather. Similarly, one of her students walked up and she shared with them also. You could just tell she was born to be a teacher. I mean, the thought of her doubting her career gave me yet another reason to dislike our current situation.
After a few more tears and urgent calls for food, we finally reached the front of the line and spent every last dollar of cash ($18 dollars) we carried with us. Side note, during this entire time the march kept pouring past us. It NEVER let up! No breaks, no gaps, but thousands of people chanting, holding signs, and of course rocking pink hats. It was so inspiring. When we finished our grub we literally jumped back into the mob. Which to our surprise ended just one block later as we marched up into the Ellipse, which is just south of the White House. It was my first view of the grand residence slash office building. I should remind you this was our first trip to our Nation’s capitol and every sight was exciting for us.
In the Ellipse, a huge crowd had formed, we’re talking thousands of rowdy, chanting marchers. We pushed our way to the very front of the grass field and joined some of the rowdiest marchers we had seen all day. Pressed against the fence, I picked up my daughter and put her on my shoulders so she could see the White House. We chanted and felt as though we were leading the charge against the evil empire. We could see lights on inside the White House and I felt as though the sight of thousands of passionate protesters must have been epic, no matter your political opinion. A civilian-led, pink-clad army was front and center to let our government know where we stood. It was awesome.
My favorite sign? A tall narrow sign reading simply, “Nobody Likes You.”
At that point, the march was done. We had done it!
But we had business to attend to. My daughter wanted to see Lincoln so we marched as a family down past the Washington Monument, past the WWII memorial, down the reflecting pool towards the Lincoln Memorial. I, of course, being the nerd that I am, said, “this reflecting pool is where Forrest Gump and Jenny hug.” “Who’s Forrest Gump Daddy?” My kids replied…DOH!
When we arrived at the grand Lincoln Memorial we were greatly disappointment to find two things. First, a massive crew buzzed around the site, tearing down the scaffolding from the weekend’s concert, which meant no access. Second, a dozen or so red hat wearing Trumpsters were shouting at a group of pussy hat wearing marchers. That situation slapped reality right back in our faces. Ugh, despite all our work on that day. All the marching. All the love in the air. Our world was jammed back in our grills, thanks to a platoon of grumpy MAGA folks. I would later overhear them complain about seeing too much pink that day. Too much pink? It’s a pretty harmless color to be so mad at.
After the drama and the realization that Lincoln would not be seen, we started a long walk back to a Metro Station. We took to walking down Constitution Ave and had the opportunity to thank several Policemen and National Guardsmen and women. I thanked them for keeping us safe and for working on a Saturday. I was greeted with smiles and appreciation which made me feel good again. On that walk, we passed through the Vietnam Memorial. A place I had long since wanted to visit. My stepfather fought in Vietnam as well as my Wife’s stepfather so it was important to us to visit. My kids didn’t really get it and I’m thankful for the fact they haven’t “seen” a war in their young years. At this memorial, I was forced to face reality again as a red hat wearing family muttered, “how can these protesters dare wear those hats here?” I mean, isn’t that what this is all about? Having the freedom to protest? To fill the streets and make our voices heard? How dare that woman try to shame what we were doing. That is what men and women have and will fight for. I just shook my head and kept moving.
As we walked along, we found yet another incredible sight. This one was a group of Native Americans chanting and praying for the protection of our land. They had traveled from North and South Dakota to join the march and help remind us they are still fighting. To remind us how precious our water is. It was such a moving and calming moment, as their songs and dances played out in the dimming light of an inspiring day I found that buzz I had lost.
Needless to say, our dogs (feet) were barking and the kids were well past meltdown mode. But like an oasis in the desert, and just when we thought we would lose it, we reached the Metro. We also were shown a sight that brought smiles to all our faces. We stood across Trump’s newest hotel in DC. But that was not what made us smile. It was the fact that the front of the hotel was covered in signs. Hundreds and thousands of marcher’s signs had been left to show our strength. People were taking pictures and laughing at the sight. I personally enjoyed a woman who was flipping off the hotel. She realizes my kids were staring at her doing so and got super embarrassed. My kids would and still do giggle about it.
I’m telling you, this was the most powerful, yet polite protest ever. I can’t wait to do it again!
This is part three of three. If you missed either of the first two please look to your right for archived posts.
People, it’s up to us to take back our country. Please, I encourage you to get active and fight for what you believe in.
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Filed under: Me being Me