Saturday, January 21, 2017

And then we marched

We hadn't planned to join the women's march in Chicago today. I had been following the march's development on the official Facebook page and through news reports. I thought about going, but things were so chaotic that I never really gave it much thought.

A few days ago we made plans to meet Aunt Linda at the Chicago History Museum. The weather forecast looked great. As luck would have it, we had a Groupon certificate about to expire.

As we drove down, we talked about the women's march. I told the girls that some day their children would read about it in their history books. The girls asked, "Why aren't we going to it?" I paused with all kinds of thoughts and then said, "I didn't think you'd be interested." They both protested. I reminded them that we had plans with Aunt Linda. We'd go to the next march or rally, I promised. Given the Trump administration's position on so many issues, I was sure there would be another rally or march.

When we arrived at the Chicago History Museum, the girls told Aunt Linda that they saw the marchers gathering. They told her about the snowplows blocking streets and the barricades. She told them she thought about going as she had so many friends marching. They looked at us and said, "Can we go?" A few minutes later we were all in the car. Daddy drove us as close as he could to the march. He dropped us and went back to park the car near the Chicago History Museum.

From the moment we left the car we saw people moving towards the march with protest signs, funny t-shirts and pink hats. It was a party atmosphere everywhere we went. We joined the march on Jackson and State Streets, already in progress, a few blocks from where we thought the rally was going to take place.

Aunt Linda and I looked at each other as we passed the block where we thought we'd turn to go to the rally. Instead we kept walking and chanting and clapping. The crowd was loud and rowdy. Parents walked with kids. Friends walked together. People stood on the sidewalks holding signs. It was amazing and inspiring.

As we turned onto LaSalle Street, we saw a sea of people in front of and behind us. We had no idea where we were going and we didn't care. We were having so much fun that we just kept marching, chanting and clapping. As we crossed intersections, we could see that the marchers were doubling-back on Dearborn, so we knew that we'd turn again soon. We just couldn't figure out where the marcher were going so we just kept following along.

At LaSalle and Lake Streets, we stopped to talk to a security person. She said the march was so much larger than they expected that the route kept changing. She said they expected 50,000 people and the last time she heard anything they thought they had 75,000 people. She didn't even know where it was ending anymore.

We decided to get a cab and meet Daddy back at the Chicago History Museum. When we got into the cab, the news reports said there were 150,000 people. The girls couldn't stop talking about the experience as we ate lunch. They had story after story after story to tell Daddy. Aunt Linda sent the girls some images so they could post them on social media.

By the time we headed home, the number had grown to 250,000 people. The march was so big that the organizers and the city officials decided to hold a rally rather than a full-scale march. They had a massive rally from Michigan Avenue to Lake Short Drive. The images were simply amazing.

We watched news reports of the event. Happily the coverage was positive as there were no reported problems. The girls marveled that they were a part of the historic marches. My feelings were a bit more mixed. As more than one sign noted, "I can't believe I still have to march for this."

Even though we were not planning to march, I was so happy that we did. It was an amazing experience for all of us. Next time I won't hesitate to plan to attend and bring friends. 

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