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Marches reflect our democracy in action

Marches reflect our democracy in action

Protest is in our history
Marches reflect our democracy in action
Thousands of protesters take part in the Women’s March in Washington on Jan. 21, 2017.
Photographer: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Back in the early ‘70s I joined in the biggest protest marches the country had ever seen. After serving in Vietnam, I did what a lot of vets did. I got an education with the GI Bill, got divorced, got a job, and went to Washington D.C. to protest against the war.

Let’s fast-forward about 50 years. I’m protesting again. The Women’s Marches have been positively inspirational.

In the ‘70s, I didn’t know what to expect — a bunch of angry hippies with signs? Nope. I was marching next to grandmothers who arrived by the busload, parents worried about their sons, students, hippies (not so angry), and veterans (angrier). Everyone was enthusiastic and willing to express themselves. And all shared a single goal — to end the war.

The Women’s March goals are many — gender inequality, human rights and immigration reform, environmental protections, LGBT rights, opposition to misogyny and patriarchy, with a degree of protesting our president (You should see those signs.).

The marchers themselves are the chronological reflection of the marchers of the ‘70s. The grandmothers that I marched with then are replaced with grandfathers now (me).

Marchers today have kicked the sign-making up a notch; though I did see this, “War is not healthy for children and other living things.” Remember that? (It was the original logo for Another Mother for Peace, founded in 1967.)

The biggest differences are that there are a lot more women marching today and the numbers dwarf any of the anti-war protests of the ‘70s. The biggest similarity is citizens of a representative democracy again exercising their right to peacefully protest in opposition to governmental policies that they don’t agree with to effect change. Come to think of it, that’s how this crazy country of ours began.

Paul Donahue

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