A Democratic Road Trip
March on Montpelier
Saturday January 21st was a rather unique day. People all over this country, and in many other countries throughout the world chose to gather together to support the rights of all people especially women. My road trip this week was to Montpelier. I chose to march in Montpelier because I felt I needed to heal. In my opinion this past year has been fraught with anger, distrust, and a nasty rhetoric on both sides of the political spectrum. Many sectors of our society have felt increasingly marginalized, fearful that they will lose health care, or their right to live in this country, or never get above the poverty line. It was time to march.
I was fortunate to share my day with a good friend and two young ladies who have never had the opportunity to participate in a civil demonstration. Both are currently studying the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s and we shared a lively discussion on the road about the differences between the march we were going to do, and those which Congressman John Lewis participated in and wrote about so brilliantly this year in his graphic novels March.
Keeping in mind that Montpelier might be a bit busy for breakfast, we opted to go to the Wayside on our way instead. This restaurant is one of my favorites, and I try to frequent it every time I am in this area.
We had about an hour before we needed to assemble and did a little browsing in a couple of great stores along the way. Capital Kitchens is a small, well-stocked cooking store right on State Street. We also made it to Bear Pond Books on Main Street. Always a favorite stop, it was nice to see how busy they were with people buying books for our cold winter nights.
No matter what your political or spiritual beliefs are, we are fortunate to live in a country where freedom of speech is so tolerated. This was very evident in Montpelier. Part of participating in civil discourse is recognizing that you will see and hear things that make you uncomfortable. One gentlemen stood on the sidelines asking people to remember how many drone strikes have occurred in the last eight years. Others were out in support of Planned Parenthood, immigration, equal pay for all and religious tolerance. Others chose to protest the President, Wall Street and the rich.
The organizers of this event expected five thousand participants, last I read it was well over fifteen-thousand. Speakers at the State house were hard pressed to make themselves heard in this big crowd, yet we heard from Governor Madeline Kunin, a representative from the Vermont chapter of Black Lives Matter, and a welcome surprise, our Senator Bernie Sanders. The rhetoric was for the most part not inflammatory, at least not what I heard. It was more a call to all citizens to continue to exercise their democratic rights, to point out inequality, or injustice, and calling us to continue the dialog moving forward.
The best part of the day for me, was when a group of women who had made some of the infamous pink hats, asked my friend"s daughter and her companion if they would like to wear them. The smiles and gratitude between the generations gave me hope that we can all continue to be participating citizens in this country in a respectful and civil manner. As you can see from the smile on my face, I am pretty confident that we can begin that conversation.