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Diary of a Protestor as an old man
J. G. Fabiano
So, how does one get ready for a protest march?
My wife and I are no great George W. Bush fans but for the past few years we've seen things going on in this country we never imagined could happen. When we read there was going to be a mini-summit, (whatever that means) with the President of Russia and there was going to be a protest march we decided to join them even though we had no idea as to what was going to happen.
It is not that we've never been to a protest before. Back in 1969, my wife and I joined thousands of people on the Boston Common to protest another illegal war that was based on lies and deceit. Back then we were a lot younger and even though we believe that this war had to end we were more interested in the music and the goings on then the protest at hand. Since that time we have been part of many political activities but never saw the need to join any kind of protest. I guess the saying is true there is never anything new in the world; just a repeat of what was.
On the morning of the march we both wondered what one should wear during a protest march. Back in the sixties I would sport a cut-off pair of jeans and an old tie-dye shirt. My wife would put on a flowered filled free flowing dress and look as beautiful as she always does. I can honestly say I no longer own any cut-off jeans or tie-died shirts. Looking through my drawers the only thing I could find was a pair of bleached green Bermuda shorts and a t-shirt that displayed the symbol, George W. Bush----Evil Doer. My wife talked me out of wearing the shirt and I opted for a black one that had a little red horse and polo player on the breast.
My wife also went the conservative route by wearing a colorful blouse and pair of jeans. She also opted to wear her jean jacket that made me think she wanted to bring back a little bit of the past. She told me she wore it to keep warm. By the way she again looked as beautiful as she always does. We couldn't drive directly to the central square in Kennebunkport because of the traffic. We were advised to park at the high school where the protest organizers hired a bus company to drive us over to the site. Parking in the lot I noticed most of the cars were from New England and all of them had anti-Bush and anti-war stickers on them. A few were clean like my own with the exception of the one anti-war and amnesty sticker I had on the back window of my truck. I guess I belonged where I found myself to be.
Walking toward the buses we were both a bit anxious wondering what to expect when we reached an area where there were people. To our surprise we met a friend of my wife who helped to organize the march. He was our age and was wearing an 'Impeach Bush and Cheney" sign on his straw hat. Surrounding him were people of all ages. There were many young men and women who were waiting to board the bus. Waiting in line I kidded with one of them by telling them we haven't been to a protest rally since the late 1960's. They looked at us as people who visit a museum look at a dinosaur. But, they smiled and congratulated us for joining what was important to all of us.
Walking onto the bus we were greeted by young men and women many of which had their young children with them. I was thrilled to see that young parents knew it was important to educate their sons and daughters about Civics in America. There were very young people who laughed and sang probably not knowing why they were there in the first place. I say this because I remember when they were us. And there were old people like my wife and I who had little power to change what they knew had to be changed but had to do something in order to keep sane. There was also a dog on the bus making sure each and every one of us had a chance to pat its head.
We arrived on a side street in Kennebunkport about a half-mile away from the central square. The closer we got the more we were able to hear the applause and the blaring sounds of peoples voices agreeing with all and everything the speakers were saying. My wife and I worked our way through the crowds so we could hear the march organizers talk about how this administration is one of the most corrupt our nation has ever had. They talked about the weakening of our Constitutional Rights and how our leaders are bankrupting our nation both financially and morally because of their stand that might is right and right no longer has a place in our modern world.
Listening to the speeches my wife pointed out a circle of young men and women paying more attention to their vegetable filled lunch then they were the speeches. Every now and then they would scream, "Impeach Now", but then would go back to what they obviously considered more important. There were many characters throughout the crowd. Some were dressed as death while others painted their faces green to look like the statue of liberty and many were dressed in prison garb to display the massive incarceration of people our administration continues to imprison. But, there were also many people like my wife and I who were conservatively dressed and quiet, listening to what the speakers were trying to say even though we knew the reality of our times. This is why we were there in the first place.
The speakers attempted to build excitement for the march even though it was not necessary. We then crowded into the streets to prepare for our march to Walker's Point. We knew the President and his friends would never see us but as one of the speakers stated it was more important the rest of the world see us. After seeing the many news reports and newspapers the next day I guess they did. We started our march with about 1800 other people holding our signs and talking with each other. There were many drums and statues in the parade line and even a band my wife and I knew during our earlier days but my wife and I mainly observed what was happening around us.
There was one scene that will stay with us for a long time. There was a young mother rolling a stroller in the middle of the crowd. At first I did not see the child but looking ahead of us I noticed a red headed girl of about 8 years old limping throughout the crowd. At least I think it was limping because she had so much energy I originally thought she was skipping. Walking closer to her I noticed both of her legs had braces on them. I guess my assumption of limping was correct.
There were many chants being screamed out during the protest march. Most were extremely repetitious with my wife and me opting out of them. But, one struck a bit of a chord. It went something like this, "Do you want to know what democracy looks like? This is what democracy looks like. Do you want to know what freedom looks like? This is what freedom looks like." My wife and I found ourselves singing along with the crowd. I noticed there were many spectators also singing along with this particular slogan even though they opted not to be a part of the demonstration. By the way, there were few people on the route that did not support it. Some held signs to support our troops but I sincerely believe in their hearts they know this is exactly what the demonstrators were doing.
We also passed a person we knew from our immediate past. He was one of the managers of a motel our daughter had her reception in last October. He was standing on the porch of the motel with many other workers enjoying the parade that was passing before them. He noticed my wife and me in the crowd and immediately screamed to his colleagues, "Look, it's the Fabiano's" I wonder how many secret service people heard that.
The route was approximately seven miles long. At the end it was obvious all were tired. Even the young men and women who earlier were more interested in their lunches then why they were there looked tired and in need of a nap. Earlier in the march one of them grabbed a megaphone in order to start a rally. I guess this is why youth is wasted on the youth.
My wife and I got on the bus that took us back to the school feeling tired but also satisfied in the knowledge we had just demonstrated against something we knew was wrong even though we probably made little difference. For after all, isn't this what democracy is supposed to look like?