County residents attend Women’s March
Quite a few folks from Gilmer County travelled to Washington, D.C., for the Jan. 21 Women’s March. Various reasons for marching were apparent. As Cindy First said, “Different causes were represented by signs, hats, costumes; but there was one, unified voice as we chanted: ‘This is what Democracy Looks Like,’ ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and ‘This is what America Looks Like!’ One particular message resounded: ‘This is just the beginning. The work starts now!’
“Some of the marchers’ signs were funny, others depressing, and a few were aggressive,” said Molly Kelly. “One little boy held a sign that said, ‘Love Each Other’ on the front, and a drawing of the earth saying, ‘Protect Me’ on the back.”
Cindy First reported, “I marched for civil rights and social justice for all ... I marched for the future of our country and because I am committed to protect, defend and advance human rights.”
Susan Pleasant said she wanted to “protest the loss of decency that has entered the common vernacular since the presidential election campaign.”
“I wanted my daughter to see how democracy works,” she said. “She was born in China, and the contrast with the Tiananmen Square demonstration was a big discussion point.”
Susan Maloney had a different focus.
“I marched for women’s rights — all of them: the right to choose, to be myself, equal and unmolested,” she said. “I marched that my granddaughters will have opportunities not because they are beautiful, but because they are capable. I marched in solidarity with my sisters, both of blood and circumstance. I marched for the marginalized, for I am one of you.”
Lydia Bassetti said she marched “in solidarity with and honor for the women who came before me: for those brave souls who fought for my right to vote, my right to work outside the home, to receive birth control.”
“I marched for all the women in my circle of family and friends who think a woman should make decisions about her own body,” she said. “I marched for human rights and full equality in employment. I stood with those of all faiths, and those who know organized religion is not for themselves. I stood up and spoke for my Jewish family and friends who have already lived so many of the atrocities being revisited by the current administration.”
Bassetti expressed a commitment to values both felt and expressed by others.
“I wanted to look into the eyes of the younger generation and see who will be leading our country in the future,” she said. “I marched to not let all the rights we have worked for so hard and so long be chiseled away without resistance. I will resist. I will surround myself with those who stand against misogyny, racism, homophobia, antisemitism and xenophobia.”
The youngest marchers in the group were Molly Grace Kelly and her friend, Max Viars, who went with Molly’s mom, Jeannetta Kelly. When they arrived in Washington, they walked around the site of the inauguration.
“There was trash covering the ground everywhere, and the sky was dismal with an orange glow,” Molly Kelly said. “The post-apocalyptic feel of the city that night really made me want to cry. Mom and Max were feeling very hopeless, and mom had to sit a minute to take in everything she was seeing. My mom has always been a very patriotic woman, but said she felt like she was questioning her patriotism right there in the heart of our capital. At the reflecting pool, we decided that if we gave up so easily, nothing good would come of our participation.”
A good night’s rest changed their attitude, they reported.
“The next morning our attitudes were completely reversed from the night before,” Molly Kelly continued. “I also marched for affordable health care, which should be a ‘must’ in a country that has the best medical equipment, technology and trained medical people available on the planet.
“The Women’s March proved to me that we are not alone. Now we need to take action locally where we live. It is very important to get involved with activities in our own neighborhoods. That’s where it all starts.”