3% of Vermont’s citizens marched in Montpelier this afternoon. It was a spectacular sight.
Laurel, Mack (our youngest son), and I left Thetford around 11:30 this morning for the VT Women’s March & Unity Rally in Montpelier. Our first hint that this was going to be big came when we passed through Sharon: the Park & Ride was full, the lot behind The Sharon Academy Middle School was full, and cars were starting to park at Sharon Elementary as people carpooled to the State House.
As we drove up the interstate we passed our friends the Hoffers. We held up our signs to them; Deb held up the pink hats she was busily knitting for the march. I tried to escape the growing traffic by getting off I-89 in Barre to go the back way into Montpelier. No matter. Every road to the State House was jammed five miles out. By the time we were within a couple of miles of our destination, most folks were abandoning their cars and walking.
This past week in the Legislature, people were talking about today's march, but it was being thought of as one event in a busy weekend. 5,000 people were expected, a big deal for Vermont's capital town. By midday Friday, people's mindset shifted. There was a wave of energy after the Trump inauguration. People wanted to be together. To draw strength from one another. To stand up for one another.
Friday night's news coverage from the events of the day was depressing, to put it mildly. In his dystopian inaugural address, President Trump spoke of "the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public." Today that public took to the streets to make its demands heard.
We got to Montpelier High School around 1:15. The crowd was so large it became difficult for the parade to get under way, but people were happy to be together in the fellowship of the
moment. The folks we marched with were cheerful and purposeful. A walk to the State House that would usually take five minutes took us forty-five. As we ambled along, we heard that we were close to 20,000 strong.
What was striking about the sea of pink caps was the diversity of people and causes represented – great-grandparents, young families, people in wheelchairs, children in strollers, college
students. Folks from Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, Migrant Justice. Marchers with funny signs, angry signs, profane signs, and massive banners. People singing, playing drums and various instruments.
By the time we reached the State House, the lawn and street in front of the capitol were filled to capacity. We saw many familiar faces from the Upper Valley. The crowd cheered its approval exhorted by Rep. Kiah Morris, Senator Sanders, Governor Kunin, and others. It was important for us to be together as a state and consider what we stand for. To join the roar of a democracy determined to resist a backward slide.
Matt Dunne and Sarah Stewart Taylor with their daughter (and her double entendre poster!)
Laurel and Mack at the beginning of the march. (I really am with her.)
I'm easily amused. Funniest sign of the day.
With Rep. Bill Lippert of Hinesburg. Over a decade and a half, Bill led the successful fight for marriage equality in the Vermont House of Representatives. If you are a Netflix subscriber, add the movie The State of Marriage to your watch list and look for Bill.
That's a bigly crowd in front of the State House!!