“This is what America looks like,” chanted six women members of my family, who traveled long distances from four airports scattered across three Western states. To march alongside half a million others in sight of the U.S. Capitol building and the Washington Monument gives me hope. The streets of our nation’s capital city were filled with a sea of homemade pink “pussyhats” worn by women — and some men — of every age, color, waist size and gender identity.
As reservations were being made, checking accounts strained, hats crocheted and bags packed, some male family members shared their anxiety about us attending the Women’s March on Washington last Saturday. My daughters, granddaughters and I never worried. After all, this was a Women’s March.
By now all have seen the pictures and heard of the enormous numbers clogging the streets and metro system, but for me this historical moment was memorable for the support, kindness, love, caring, and sense of sisterhood that was everywhere.
The cheers on the plane as it touched down at Reagan National were loud and joyful. The roar Saturday morning at each Metro stop that greeted the pink hats as they boarded were worthy of goosebumps. Amongst the half-million people were babies in strollers and on their dad’s backs, children holding signs, and elderly people in wheelchairs. The concerns and sometimes outright fears of the marchers were genuinely felt and expressed in signs and chants. Above all, people were there to give voice to American values of equality, inclusion and fairness for all.
People who would dismiss this march fail to understand its importance. They fail to understand why women would travel so far and would march to express their sentiments. It is important to know that the thoughts and feeling expressed on the signs and in the chants are sincerely felt. The fears for our sisters and their families are real.
America is too great to squander on ideology that leaves no room for compassion and understanding of our fellow citizens. America is too great to allow only the most wealthy to enjoy its warmth. America is too great to live in fear. Women were marching because they want to remind the powers that “We the People” means all the people, and that their vision of America is worth marching for.
Carolyn Mauer, of Boise, spent her professional education career serving as a teacher, principal and bureau chief at the Idaho Department of Education.