By Audra Volpi
A few years back, my vision for the future changed, as did my registered party of choice. I began to realize the importance of a nation of unity instead of a nation of discrimination. “One Nation under God, Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all”. Words that have been challenged in this country as of late by a President and his party who has a difficult time listening to its people. A party who stands for “justice” constantly disappoints us with mindless rhetoric.
January 27, 2007 was a day in history. Outdoors in the streets of Washington DC with my family and my peers, our day started out as a nice trip on the Blue Line Metro to find it full of demonstrators. Children being wheeled around in strollers displaying signs with anti-war messages. Teenagers holding signs ready to protest. Hippies, young and old ready to tell the world what they believe in. People coming from all walks of life to this one time, this one day and this one fight to regain our country. We exited at the Smithsonian stop walking up to the Mall. This was my first time at a demonstration such as this. I was not prepared to see the amount of people that waited before me, covering the Mall area with the Capital building in the background. Crowds of people, from what the conservative media said were only around 20,000 to what seems more like a few hundred thousand in person. Walking through these crowds towards the large speakers and a stage to where music was playing, speakers were talking of the plans for the day and how we need to get some semblance of sanity back in this country.
People everywhere displaying signs showing their individuality. "I have a Dream" was displayed on one person's backpack with a picture of Bush and Cheney behind bars. "I Don't Pay Taxes to Kill Civilians" was another. And then there was one that I thought was pretty powerful. "To our Soldiers, Thank you for your Blood, Sweat, Tears & Service – But It Is Time to Come Home. We Will Work to Bring You Home” You see, just because you are against the war, doesn’t mean you’re not patriotic and especially doesn’t mean that you don’t support our troops. I don’t believe our country is on the right track. I believe it is time to bring the men and women of this country home. I will support them while they are there, even though I don’t believe in the reason they are there. A similar feeling was displayed all over that Mall.
The feeling of patriotism was rampant. People who loved this country we live in. Proud to call ourselves Americans, even though we have fallen on hard and distrustful times. There was a semblance of hope. This administration is almost out and it was that hope of a new era to bring us out of the Dark ages that brought these few hundred thousand people to Washington DC this day. People came from all over the country. I was listening to this one woman who was on a bus for two days from California to come to this demonstration. It was a small sacrifice for her to make her voice heard. I saw children with their parents holding American Flags – waving them in the air. People holding signs from different towns in North Carolina, Colorado, New York, Florida, DC, New Jersey and so many other states representing the American Voice. Do I think it was heard by our president? No. Unfortunately, I don’t. I don’t think he’s capable of being as human as those that voted for him wished he would be.
Knowing that we are not being heard did not stop the few hundred thousand people this day from trying to be heard. As children, we try to persuade our parents to change their mind about making us go to bed early or not making us eat our vegetables. Where in our lifetime does it change, where as adults some just stand by and let the world pass them by without making their voice heard? Why do some just give up and not speak up. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “There Comes a Time When Silence is Betrayal”. How true this statement is at this time of this country’s history.
Leaving the demonstration and back on the Metro, I had a conversation with a gentleman standing next to me. He was amazed that I was able to stand still on this train that was stopping and starting so suddenly and wondered what my skill was and how he could get it. “Years riding a New York Subway” I responded and we chuckled. We discussed the march and my family’s role in it. I asked about him and his role and he proceeded to tell me an interesting story. Here was a man who was a US Marshall for a number of years leaving the demonstration. He had the day off and wanted to go. Not for work, but just to go. I found that fascinating. It takes all people from all walks of life to make this country what it is – and what it isn’t. But here was someone who I would have never thought would make his way to that demonstration for any other purpose than to police it. But he was there right along with the rest of us. It made me proud at that very moment to be an American.
For me – this experience was very overwhelming. Everywhere I looked I saw thousands of people. It was powerful to think that in this march, there were people who lost loved ones in this war. People who had their children, siblings or partners shipped overseas not knowing on a daily basis if they were going to get a knock at the door from a man or woman in uniform to deliver the news of their loss. I can‘t even imagine as a parent getting that knock. I have hope, though. Hope that even though this country has reached the bottom, it will be not long before we start climbing out to reach where we ought to be. The Light of day is coming closer. If I give in and don’t believe that – I will be like the countless Americans who have given up and accepted things for what they are, and not what they could or even should be. Don’t let that American be you. Stand up and be the voice of freedom that helps bring out troops home where they belong.