When I first heard about the Women’s March on Washington, I knew I had to go. No – I felt compelled to go.
I marched in remembrance of the fiercely passionate women who were such an important part of my life, including my grandmother, who was pregnant with her first child when women finally got the right to vote in 1920. She remained actively involved in politics well into her ‘90’s, hosting meetings of Democratic women in her home. And I marched for my mother, who didn’t live to see the election that delivered a gut punch to her first-born daughter. She grew up in a Republican home and continued to vote that way into my adulthood. As the Republican Party grew increasingly conservative, she switched allegiances. When she became more housebound in later years, you could find her angrily shouting at the talking heads on cable news, and you were sure to get an earful about the political outrage of the moment whenever you talked with her. She took her politics personally.
I marched because I care – a defining hallmark of what women, everywhere, give to their families and their communities. That I define my circle of care more broadly than others is a sign of my liberal bent: America is my family and the world is my community.
I saw that spirit of community wherever I looked: in the faces of the people of all ages, races, cultures and religions who gathered together in an expression of their deepest values. I saw it in the sea of pink knit kitty-cat hats, a tongue-in-cheek re-appropriation of a word used in a demeaning context during last year’s election -- a “meow” to that snarl.
I saw that spirit on the faces of the law enforcement officers and military members stationed throughout our route, smiling and bantering with us in good humor. Despite a crowd exceeding half a million, there were zero arrests, and I witnessed no unruly behavior.
So what does it all mean, now that we’re back home? For me, it helped to end a two-month period where I felt adrift and dispirited. I knew I needed to get politically active in ways I wasn’t comfortable with if I wanted my voice to be heard, but I struggled to find the energy.
No more. In a march that demonstrated hope and cooperation rather than anger and domination, I found my voice. And I will no longer keep quiet.