January 20, 2017 was an important day in American history, when our country executed the time-honored tradition of peacefully passing the torch from one President to another. But the following day was equally important, when thousands of people peacefully marched on Washington, many other cities across the nation, and indeed around the world.
I caught up with two local women who went, one a veteran of prior marches, and one a teenager who attended her first organized demonstration. Laurie Buchwald is a Radford-based nurse practitioner and former candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. Isabella Burgoyne is 14 years old, a student at Radford High School.
I asked what compelled them to go.
Isabella said, “I went to the march in solidarity to all the women who have been abused and mistreated, and to thank the women who have fought for all our rights in the past. Reproductive rights; I haven’t needed them yet. It’s just nice to know that everyone, all women, have the right to do what they wish with their bodies. I have the right soon to vote!”
Laurie added, “In the same way that I am grateful for the early nurse practitioners who fought for me to be able to provide healthcare to women – we are still fighting – I am grateful to the women who fought so that I might have the right to vote. Now it is my turn to fight for the women who will come after me, to make sure that women achieve equal rights under the law and are protected by the Constitution. Just 50 years ago, women were not even able to get a credit card, serve on a jury, go on birth control pills, get an Ivy League education, and experience equality in the workplace. Many of us still don’t!”
“When Trump won the election, I was so disappointed,” Isabella added, “because I know it will affect me and all the people around me. He legitimized sexual assault and bullying of women. He made that okay. It’s not.”
Laurie said, “He has a longstanding disregard for women. I see women all the time in my office that have been sexually assaulted. They have to fight to have somebody to believe them. When the commander in chief can say and do those things, it will make it even harder for them to be believed. It is appalling to me.
“We need to continue to move forward and fight for our rights. I never called it an anti-Trump march, but there’s no doubt that his actions have galvanized the world.”
Isabella said, “This was my first march. Sometimes they can be dangerous. This one was peaceful. I didn’t think my parents would let me go, but they were all for it. Both my mom and my dad went.”
Laurie said, “There were 1200 buses parked at RFK (stadium). Four came from Christiansburg. We could have filled so many more. The crowd was amazing.” They had a two mile walk to the rally site, “It was the most amazing, powerful, thing. I almost cry just talking about it. If I had never gotten beyond the Capitol, I would have been happy for the amazing sense of love and solidarity. Everybody was committed, united and optimistic. It was phenomenal, overwhelming.”
Isabella said, “There were kids, young adults, and older adults, jammed with people.”
They were in the same area where the inauguration happened the day before, but the crowd was larger.
Laurie said, “We were hearing about massive rallies in other cities. We felt like we were in a global community of love. If we never heard a speaker or musician, and many people didn’t, we were still moved by the day. There were no cross words. No negative remarks. Everybody had everybody else’s back. It was a gift enough. Now we need to go from moment to movement, from passion to power.”
Isabella said, “I feel a crushing responsibility to do something. We have a lot of work to do. It’s going to be my future.”