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Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009) Donate to DU
BanzaiBonnie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 12:21 PM
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J20 DC Journal
Monday, January 10th

Today my grandson and I made the reindeer cookies that were a put-off Christmas project. I felt bad that we had not finished them before Christmas as planned but as always, there is only so much time... and one more project.

It seems like... It is such a normal thing to do: making cookies. I put one circle of cookie dough down then carefully overlap it slightly with another slice. Jace adds pretzels for antlers, two brown M&Ms for eyes and a red one for the nose. As I clean up after our marvelous project I reflect on a most un-normal thing I am about to do. I ponder the where, what and why of the next weeks events.

On Tuesday January 18th I will fly from Portland, Oregon to Washington DC to attend the 55th inaugural parade. I will not be there to celebrate that event, but to turn my back on Bush.

Now, you have to know that I dont like large crowds. I have never even attended the Grand Floral Parade in Portland. There are just too many people and Im more than a bit claustrophobic in tight quarters. Ive lived here all my life and have always watched it on television.

Now, in a week and a day, Ill be in a plane on my way across the country. I cant NOT GO.

But today is a normal day and next week is far away.

Sunday, January 16th

Tuesday is near. It is moving toward me faster than I thought it would. I am excited, hopeful, and also apprehensive. I have no idea what awaits me in DC.

Ive frozen enough leftovers for several dinners and done some last-minute shopping for groceries. My family will not have too much to do for their meals while Im gone. My husband and daughter are both perfectly capable cooks but I am finding it difficult to leave without a bit of fussing over them. Theyll be fine. I know that. In part, I use the fussing as a way to expend the extra energy of all the emotions Im feeling right now. Im really a homebody and hate leaving Froghaven for more than a couple of days at a time.

Monday, January 17th

MLK holiday and L has the day off from school. I bring boxes up from the basement and she carefully, lovingly packs away the Christmas decorations. I carry the tree out and she vacuums the remains from the living room floor. Soon there is no trace that the tree had been up more than three weeks after Christmas.

As the cleanup proceeds, Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement are in my thoughts. My mind wanders through as much history as I know of that time. I think of Rosa Parks on the bus the day she decided--- enough was enough.

Tonight my traveling companion arrives. We dont know what adventures await us in DC, but with 117 years of life experience between the two of us we feel up to the challenge of whatever comes tomorrow... and in the next few days.

Tuesday, January 18th

Along with clearing up last minute stuff, I had trouble going to sleep last night. The late time I went to sleep made rising at 4 am way too early. But the plane leaves at 6:30 am so we bustle out the door without even stopping for breakfast. It seems too early to eat and Im far too excited anyway.

Once were on the plane its only about 2 1/2 hours to Denver. Breakfast for us at the airport and then back onto another Frontier plane for the second half of our journey.

Landing in DC two hours late because our plane had computer problems before we took off from Denver, we saw the first long fur coats and cowboy boots. We watched as one couple who wore furs and cowboy boots moved in front of everyone else in line at the luggage carousel. It appeared they were in a hurry to get their luggage because there was a car from their hotel waiting for them.

We picked up our luggage and stepped out to the curb to attempt to spot the car of our host who said he was going to be circling the drive while waiting for us. After about five minutes we spotted his car, gave quick greetings as we loaded our luggage, and headed for Rockville, Maryland where he lives with his wife and two children.

We were greeted by a smiling wife and two beautiful children. Once we had our stuff settled we were offered big bowls of vegetable soup. The lovely unhurried meal gave us a chance to share in table-talk about ourselves and learn about our host family. This family could not have been nicer if we had somehow hand picked them.

That night we were given a key to the house and shown the kitchen where we were encouraged to help ourselves to whatever we needed for breakfast or any other time we were hungry. When our heads hit our pillows a bit later we knew we had landed in a place that was safe, snug and as good as home. Well, at least as good as home as one can be when home is 2500 miles away.

Wednesday, January 19th

Five blocks from a Metro stop made our home-away-from-home a strategic location from which to explore DC. So our first day there was spent doing just that. We took the twenty-minute ride into the city and located important stops and landmarks while learning to ride the Metro. That was an enterprise in and of itself.

V and I are both from the country and had no experience with such things. By the end of the afternoon, we learned there are both written and unwritten rules for this particular mode of travel. NEVER eat on the Metro and always move to the right on the escalators so people can pass on your left.

All in all, we found the Metro to be a wonderful adventure and we loved not having to drive a strange city.

Our main objective for the morning was to find a place called the Convergence Center. This was located just off the newly opened New York Metro stop and a few blocks down. It was beginning to snow as we left the station and that continued until there was about 4 or 5 inches accumulation. The temperature was biting cold and we winced every time the wind hit our faces.

V and I were more than pleased with the small signs posted along the route to the Center and we managed to turn onto 12th and find our way to the old warehouse that was serving as a gathering place for a number of groups. Code Pink, Dawn and (I think) ANSWER had meet-ups there, as well as training in nonviolent action.

Up a narrow stairs and into the main hall, we explored the activities that were taking place and talked with people; some of whom had come from all parts of the country. They were mostly young, committed to action and dedicated to saving this country from the growing threat of the destruction of our democracy.

Back at our home base and after dinner we decided to join our host husband in a meet-up with some of the Democratic Underground folks he knows from online. On the way in we saw more of the infamous fur coats and cowboy hats. They seemed to be everywhere. Coming out of the Metro on our way to the bar the owners of full length fur coats and cowboy boots and hats seemed to be everywhere we turned. We did notice most of them ran in packs. Im sure none of them wanted to meet real people. especially people of the everyday classes such as ourselves.

They were all in a hurry to get to their Bancy Falls and whatever other parties were going on to celebrate the coronation. We were headed to a bar for the DU meet-up to begin the celebration of the un-nauguration.

The third member of our group from the Northwest met us at the bar after flying in that evening. We also had a DU member who had driven down from New Jersey join our group. She would spend the next two nights with our host family.

Along with a few more of the DU folk, the evening was spent in good company with much talk of politics.

Thursday, January 20th

Morning came early after our late evening out and though we had plans to leave early my body was loathe to respond. Attempting to move four women too fast was a bit like herding cats for our host husband. But he was absolutely gracious about the whole thing; making us PB&J sandwiches to take with us and never showing a bit of aggravation at our slow start.

Another trip in on the Metro and a VERY long walk down to the Roosevelt Memorial, we were just in time to have missed the Billionaires For Bush who had just auctioned off Social Security and the Tsongass Wildlife Refuge. Word was, they went pretty cheap. The Billionaires were still hanging around so we got to hear some of their views on the event that had just taken place. Though they were loud and obnoxious, or perhaps it was BECAUSE they were loud and obnoxious, it was a hilarious demonstration.

It was nearly 11:30 at that point and we didnt want to wait any longer to get in place for the parade. So we headed out on another VERY long walk.

Coming up on the 12th St. checkpoint we took our place in line to await the privilege of being frisked. A pile of forbidden items were laid out in front of the gate. Apples, oranges, pop cans, anything that might be lobbed in a moment of frustration and anger was unceremoniously dumped at the gate.

Coats open, everything out of our pockets and purses and bags checked while we were subjected to a full pat-down body search. As the woman patted down my backside and between the roughly barked orders, I interjected a quick, Would you mind doing a chiropractic adjustment while youre back there? She did crack a smile before hastily resuming her sober demeanor. I couldnt help it. Humor was my way of dealing with the demeaning situation.

I bet the fur coat ladies that were in line absolutely abhorred being handled in that way.

Stepping into the secure area was shocking to say the least. It was completely surreal. A loudspeaker blared. When I began listening it was completely unnerving to realize that Bush was giving his coronation speech. I had just stepped into the Twilight Zone of my science fiction nightmare.

Once the others were all through the security checkpoint we headed East. There were people wearing orange everywhere. There were many carrying signs and even a whole group of young people had I have no President pinned to their backs.

And there were police. Everywhere. Police presence was felt in every quarter. It was like nothing I had ever seen. Besides undercover government agents that flowed through the throngs, uniformed police from every state stood in line about every five feet along Pennsylvania Avenue. It was impressive. Surreal, but impressive.

We walked a long time trying to find the perfect spot for viewing. In the end, two of us stationed ourselves on the south side of the parade route and the other three of our group crossed the street and found a suitable spot on the north side, sort of across and up from where we were.

Then we settled in to wait.

My companion and I were tucked tightly into a bunch of Bush supporters. During our wait we heard some mighty interesting things. It was a chore for me to listen to some of their comments which seemed particularly

One woman in an obnoxious fur coat said, I just dont understand how they can allow those protesters a space to gather. On and on she went in such fashion until my friend turned to her and asked, Isnt that called freedom of assembly? She and her husband kept up their comments on the smelly protesters not even knowing that some were standing right next to them.

I engaged in some light conversation with another woman who was there to watch her daughter who was marching with her school band from Florida. I noted that she must be very proud of her daughter and we chatted quite amicably. Her teenage son was at her side and he kept making derogatory comments about this administration. She felt she had to explain to me that he was young and didnt know any better.

At one point we thought the parade was about to begin when a contingent of what looked like Airmen (not sure as I dont know the service markings well) marched past. I took note of as many individual faces as possible as they went marching by. Each one is some mothers child and all are precious.

The wait was long and my toes kept going to sleep and my knees were aching from standing on the cold, hard pavement for so long, but at last the moment arrived when there was some movement on the parade route.

I was terrified I would miss the moment and not turn my back in time so I was watching with an eagle eye for the Presidential limo. The first vehicle past was GHW Bush and mother of the prez, Barbara. It went speeding by so fast it left wind in its wake but someone right in front of me squealed, Its Barbara! A titter of adoration reeled through the group. Talk about surreal... and stupid. Like they knew her on a first name basis. This was their royalty.

I dont get it. I guess Im just not into celebrity worship.

A half dozen big, black SUVs carrying other dignitaries went whizzing past.

There was a gap of a few more minutes and finally I spotted the nose of the presidential limo. It was inching its way down Pennsylvania Avenue in a much more stately fashion than the other vehicles.

I made my turn and gave my back to the President of the United States. In that moment, a crescendo of feelings hit unwavering resolve for the action my body was performing. I felt the impact of the turn through the whole of my being. This was one of the most difficult things I'd ever done. It was a momentous occasion for me as the two of us turned on that spot and a third person joined us. It was the son of the woman from Florida and we were sure it was unplanned but he took his cue from us. We handed him a 3x5 card explaining the action he had just taken part in.

When the reports from the media ignore or minimize the protesters do not believe them. The parade was dominated by protesters. I know this is true because I was there.

I don't know how they count large crowds, but the estimate on the number in attendance along Pennsylvania Avenue was 1 million. From my perspective of walking up and down the route, it's my best guess that between 1/3 and 1/2 were not there to celebrate Bush taking office. There were huge numbers of people with anti Bush signs or wearing orange.

On January 20th, there were just as many or more who carried no signs. They wore no colors indicating anything about themselves until the Bush limo passed when they turned their backs on the man who would be president. I had traveled nearly 2500 miles from the Pacific Northwest to Washington DC to do just that.

I want you to know that those Bush supporters around me felt the impact of my action. We were not supposed to respond or say anything during the turn, but I did briefly break my silence. One person spoke directly to me, telling me, nearly spitting what she hoped would put me in my place, "I hope you're proud of yourself."

I responded, "I'm proud of myself for being here." I quietly and calmly added, "I'm doing this for you... and my grandchildren." She didn't say another word and neither did I.

I will be forever changed by that day and the Turn Your Back on Bush action. It did make a difference. It did have an effect.

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