I want to reply to Penelope Evans’ column about the Women’s March on Washington, because I hope anyone who saw the piece might also read this and understand what the march was really like, since I was fortunate enough to attend.
I didn’t see any of the celebrities or hear any of the speakers that Evans found so off-putting.
I think it must be like when they show our congressmen or senators on TV, speaking passionately to the cameras as if there is a roomful of other people listening to them, but when the camera moves, you see that no one else is really there.
This time, there were half a million people there, but most of us weren’t watching TV or seeing anyone famous and we didn’t ask any of them to speak on our behalf. We came and spoke for ourselves.
And we spent the entire day speaking with each other.
I talked with people from Hawaii, Colorado, New York, Georgia, Massachusetts, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, Florida, and California, people who had gone to extraordinary lengths to come and make their voices heard.
I saw people of all ages, all colors, men, women, children and babies, people in wheelchairs, some walking with canes, all in great good spirits and yes, many of them carrying wonderful signs that said things like: “Support public education,” “This is what democracy looks like,” and “No room for hate here.” Surely Evans could have agreed with these sentiments.
Sure, some other signs were more colorful, but I would not expect children (even those of reading age) to understand the references to “grabbing back,” unless they had heard and understood the president’s own words. If they are old enough to understand, they need to be prepared to defend themselves against sexual predators.
Evans worried that she might not have been welcome because of her opposition to abortion. Not so. I walked alongside a group of nuns from somewhere, and I feel very sure their views on that issue are just as strong and heartfelt as Evans’ own.
But that isn’t what this day was about. This day was about respecting women and rejecting the politics of hate. For that reason, I guess, my very favorite sign was one held by a young man, marching alone, that simply said, ‘I love my mother.” I patted him on the arm and told him he was a good man. Certainly, Evans would have done the same.
I did not wear a hat or carry a sign and did not even want to go to the march myself, but felt a strong sense of duty. My father fought against Nazis in Europe. He was D-Day + 6 at Normandy; I am giving thanks he has not lived to see what appears to be neo-Nazi influence now being elevated to positions of power here in our own government.
And I want moderate Republican leaders, who can make all the difference now, to see how strongly people will support them if they, too, like my father, find the courage to stand up and do the right thing.
Anne Chesnut is a Lexington attorney.