When I won tickets in a lottery to go to the president's inauguration, I accepted right away. Regardless of policy differences, it was a part of history that I decided I would never forget. I also hold the American democratic system in high regard, and wanted to support the peaceful transition of power that is so special to this country.
My mom and I decided to make a trip of it: we left Atlanta on Wednesday and drove to Richmond, went into D.C. on Thursday to pick up the tickets and walk around and watch preparations, went to the inauguration on Friday, and then stayed for the Women's March on Saturday.
If there's one thing that I value more than American democracy, it's the First Amendment of the Constitution. I believe that they go hand in hand, and one cannot exist without the other. So I wrote it out on my sign and held it proudly, exercising my constitutional right to peaceably assemble.
I had read on a website to purchase our metro tickets ahead of time and I'm SO glad we listened to that advice. We filled them back up after returning from the inauguration, which allowed us to skip ahead in a line that stretched from the parking garage at the metro station to the ticketing machines.
Then we got on the train for D.C., which was packed full of women in pink hats holding signs and cheering. And when I say packed... we could not move. The train was so crowded that it ended up being delayed as more and more people headed to the march tried to cram in.
Once we finally arrived downtown, we could feel the energy in the air and I knew that we were in for something special. What I didn't expect was the complete lack of cell phone service. We arrived just in time to hear Gloria Steinem speak at about 10:30, with the planned march scheduled for 1:15. Little did we know... the march had grown so unexpectedly huge that the formal march had been delayed. So after listening to speaker after speaker after speaker... a large group of us decided that it was time to go and began pushing back against the crowd to get out. (Like I said... we just thought the programming had run over... we had no idea that the streets were already full of people who had been marching for hours already!)
Making our way from the Smithsonian to the White House was amazing. There were people as far as the eye could see... the majority of whom were in bright pink hats. We talked with people from all over the country about why they were marching and what was important to them. We saw signs about the environment, about immigrants, about education, about being a kinder and more loving country. We saw complete strangers coming together for the same causes.
When we decided to return to our car and begin the 10 hour drive back to Atlanta, I finally had service again and we finally realized how huge the march had become, not only in Washington, but around the country and around the world.
I'm so glad that my mom and I were able to go to the march, and I'm super glad about the discussion that it sparked on social media... even though I wish critics and supporters were kinder in the way that they speak to each other.
Regardless of political affiliation however, I think it is incredibly cool that we will all be able to look back on this past weekend and realize that in some way, shape, or form... history was made. And we were there to witness it.
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