On January 21, 2017, I marched with millions of women around the world to protect America from the tyrannical rule of a man with no moral compass. In solidarity, we wore pink hats with pussy ears to make the point that our freedoms and rights as women (and our pussies, for that matter) aren't up for grabs, contrary to what this man seems to think.
But as we marched I realized there was more to it than that -- though that would have been enough. We marched to show our fellow Americans, indeed, to show the world, that we have not forgotten how far we have come, or the cost of getting here.
The now undeniable Russian interference in our election weighed heavy on my mind as I visited the war memorials, as did the knowledge that my father, a World War II veteran, was probably spinning in his grave after having lived most of his life during the Cold War, anti-communist era that followed. My brother survived Vietnam, though almost sixty thousand other American soldiers did not. And toward what end? To try and prevent a small country on the other side of the world from being taken over by communists -- the ones who control the press, eliminate free society, and silence their detractors. And though we failed in our endeavor, those men and women gave their lives to try and keep that from happening. It was that important.
Has America already forgotten?
Yet here we are, decades later, and face-to-face with a United States leader whom the reviled communist regime helped elect. A leader who thinks Russia's murderous dictator is an exemplary role model.
What have we done?
I stood silent at the memorial wall. I touched the names engraved patiently, precisely, and with the utmost care. I remembered them, and why they died.
And I cried.
I cried for them. And for America. And for what we've become that a man with so little regard for honesty and truth and human decency toward others could stand at the helm of our great ship as she lumbers and lurches forward in the waves of change, threatening to capsize her completely.
I cried for the men and women who gave their very lives to preserve those freedoms promised to us all when this nation was born.
And I considered again why so many millions of women came together in the largest civil rights protest of all time; a protest that literally circled the globe in all its pussy-capped, pink glory. A cacophony of drums and footsteps and voices in every language demanding to be heard. Crying out against a world in which, if the new resident of the White House has his way, we will be marginalized as human beings and compromised as a nation.
And we vowed, each of us, that against this we will rise -- we are rising -- so that those who came before us will not have died in vain while defending the torch-bearing guardian of our shores.
I was inspired by Dr. King's words, forever memorialized both in granite and in the hearts of the marchers: "Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world in which to live." (Dr. Martin Luther King, D.C. 1959). He knew the struggle. He knew what was at stake. He wanted the "finer world" for us all, and lived with hope for the great nation that America could someday become.
And so, we marched. For miles we marched. For hours we marched. In the cold we marched. For ourselves, and for our mothers and grandmothers, and for our children and grandchildren, we marched.
We marched together. All races and genders and ages and backgrounds. All of us who have melted and blended into this great American democracy, from all manner of time and place. We marched because we will not take for granted, and will never give up, the freedom and rights for which so many have died.
Because freedom -- our freedom -- is not free.
It is never, ever free.