Why I Went to the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. PDF Print E-mail
We The People - We The People
Written by Nina Forsythe   
Wednesday, 28 March 2018 12:05


             There was no question that I was going to a march to be counted among those who are calling for an end to the Wild West mentality regarding guns that has resulted in so much senseless slaughter in our nation. The only question was whether I would help swell the numbers locally or in our nation’s capitol. I thought both the size of the crowd in D.C. and the number of sibling marches around the country were important to send a message to our elected officials. In the end, I thought the visibility of the D.C. march was marginally more important.

            Am I glad I went! Not so much for the drop that I added to the crowd but for what I witnessed first hand and the effect it had on me. The first effect was due to the size and diversity of the crowd. There is nothing like being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the nation streaming onto Pennsylvania Ave. with signs of all types focused on ending gun violence. Some signs were amusing and clever, such as “The Only Thing Easier to Buy Than a Gun is a Congressman” or “Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Bulletproof,” but the ones that moved me the most referred to victims of gun violence. Some of them listed the victims of Sandy Hook or Parkland; others were dedicated to a particular friend or family member. So many times, in the midst of the exhilaration of being in a huge crowd of people dedicated to change, I was brought up short by reminders of these innocent lives cut short while legislators gave nothing but excuses for their inaction and the NRA continued to push for ever laxer regulations. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried many times that day.


   When the program began, I had the same experience of whiplash—from inspiration to sadness—as the speakers shared their stories and their determination. Several things stood out to me. The first was the diversity of the speakers. Sure, many of them were the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, who had organized the march, but many were from other schools and other cities, children who had grown up with pervasive gun violence. As Edna Chavez, a student from South L.A. said, “I learned how to duck from bullets before I learned how to read.” They made clear that gun violence isn’t limited to the occasional school massacre but an omnipresent threat in many neighborhoods that takes many lives by ones, twos, and threes; leaves gaping holes in so many families; and causes trauma and PTSD in children who have to live in such conditions. The Parkland students acknowledged that they were privileged to having their voices heard, but they were scrupulous to use that privilege to make sure the many unnoticed victims of gun violence also had a chance to be heard.

            The second remarkable thing was how eloquent the speakers were—not just for their ages. They were more forthright thanMarchfol most adults we hear on the news and they weren’t speaking as if they loved to hear their voices. Although their stories were heart-wrenching, they weren’t just emotional; they all identified the problems that the proliferation of dangerous weapons had caused and they appealed to those in power to do something about that. Eleven-year-old Naomi Wadler was particularly impressive in speaking for black women and girls, whose deaths by homicide hardly garner any attention at all. 

            The third thing that impressed me and gave me great hope was the persistence of these young people. They did not regard the march as the apex of their movement. They knew it was one tactic in a long campaign, and they had a plan. The plan is to keep up the pressure on elected officials and, if those officials don’t respond, to vote them out of office. Over and over, the power of speech and of the ballot were mentioned. There were frequent chants of “Vote them out!” and there were volunteers registering voters. The speakers recognized that change would not be immediate or easy, and they were in it for the long haul. It was wonderfully energizing to be part of such an electrified crowd, but the main reason I’m glad I went to the march in D.C. was the confidence I gained that these young, motivated, savvy, informed, and persistent young people would finally make the difference we’ve been needing for so long. I, for one, am happy to lend them my assistance.


--Nina Forsythe, Frostburg

Photos by Nina Forsythe and Carol Smith

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--Nina Forsythe, Frostburg

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