Freedom to Assemble
I wanted to write a post just before the Inauguration, but I didn’t want it to be only about politics (I couldn’t think of anything else), so I pondered and reflected and then I marched on January 21st in the Women’s March on Washington in Los Angeles with 750,000 men, women and children from all walks of life and all ages, from infants to grandmothers. It was exhilarating to be with so many people who were kind and attentive and aware that our freedoms and our rights are at risk.
As I was walking my dog the day after millions of people showed up to shout, “We the People” and to exercise the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, I experienced a revelation. The men and women who have served and who continue to serve in the United States Armed Forces, the men and women who have protected and who continue to protect our nation from foreign invasion and fascism and demagogues and dictators, the men and women who have sacrificed and who continue to sacrifice in order to protect the Constitution of the United States, they are the reason I was able to participate in this historical peaceful assembly. Intellectually, I have known this fact, but now, I understand the importance of the right to assemble with 750,000 other people, and how the hundreds of other peaceful assemblies throughout this great nation just didn’t appear out of thin air. How cool, how amazing that We the People can assemble in such numbers, raise our voices in dissent, let our fears and concerns and desires and hope and dreams be heard—and I must add, without one violent act committed.
The next thought I had, after I realized the Armed Forces’ role in my freedom to march with the Women’s March on Washington was: The men and women who have served and who continue to serve in the military—like my father—have protected my freedom of assembly and it is my turn to protect their freedom in whatever way I can, with whatever means I can. In other words, they have had and continue to have my back—now it is my turn to have their backs. These realizations about our rights and freedoms and amendments to the United States Constitution and the men and women of the military are sobering, and yet, so empowering.
The photograph accompanying this post was taken by Chuck Smallwood. Thank you for allowing Returning Soldiers Speak to publish the photograph and thank you for walking by my side in support of women’s rights of equality and human rights.