SNJ Today January 25 2017 : Page 1

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Sisters Unite

Mickey Brandt

...in numbers too big to ignore, with women from the region joining others on Saturday in the nation’s capital.

At least a half-million dem onstrators came from across the country for Saturday’s historic W omen’s March on Washington, including about 50 from our area who rode a charter bus organized in the western part of Cumberland County.

An overwhelming disquiet after the November electioncente red in the hearts of many wom en—drove the numbers far above advance estimates in W ashington and in sister marches nationwide and across the globe. CBS News reported 650 demonstrations worldwide with about three million participants.

“This awakened people from their stupor,” said Lori Talbott, M.D. of Fairton. “Today, the people spoke.”

“It was heartwarming,” said her husband, Keith Talbott, one of a half dozen men on the Cumberland County bus.

“We don’t know w hat will happen, but personally I just had to do this,” said Shoshana Osofsky from Gouldtown in Fairfield Township.

Despite the overflow crowds and the emotional fervor of the marchers, the event was entirely peaceful. There were no reports of disruption, damage, or arrests. Some saw it as even more than peaceful.

“It was the most congenial group of hum an beings I’ve ever seen; there wasn’t an iota of hostility in the entire thing.” said Cindy Zirkle of Fairfield Township.” It was an unbelievable experience of w hat positive energy can do.”

“Even in the mass of people, everyone was mixing w ith fun and supportive interactions,” said Ceci Brandt of Vineland (the reporter’s wife). The marchers were young, sort of young, old, and m ulti-ethnic. There were sisters (the biological kind), m others and daughters, and some three-generational groups. There were babies and young children with moms and dads, and teens with friends and even parents.

Along the way from the bus parking lot to the march site, residents offered water, showed sympathetic signs, and shouted encouragement. Some DC police told marchers, “Welcome to Washington, we’re glad you’re here.”

A large Lutheran church adjacent to the National Mall offered restrooms, water, coffee, and large-screen TV to watch.

Maggie DeMarco of Bridgeton said, “I couldn’t say enough thank-you’s to the police, the national guardsmen and women, the marshals, the clean-up crews and the residents of Southeast DC who supported us on Saturday.”

The unanticipated crowds in DC actually filled the planned march route before it began. Elbow-to-elbow for miles, people moved in a Brownian motion of ripples and shakes.

“We usually couldn’t move, didn’t know which way to go, and couldn’t see,” said Lori Talbott, “It was awesome; we were happily paralyzed.”

Some Cumberland groups were on the Mall in a jam of people, getting information from two guys perched in a tree.

“Mostly, their observations were that nothing was moving except the thousands going slowly around in circles,” said DeMarco. “We decided not to try to get there—wherever ‘there’ was.”

Many on the Cumberland County bus were veterans of previous protests, dating back to the early 1960s.

Nicole Gardner of Vineland, at 35 the youngest woman on the trip, said, “It was exciting hearing all their stories.”

Saturday’s event was like the great civil rights and anti-war marches. The participants, though, drew some distinctions.

Zirkle said, “Every anti-war gathering back then had rage at its core, mainly from the young men of draft age; today we had none of that.”

Earlier movements were usually singleissue ones like human rights or black power, while this one had dozens of issues represented.

“There was a different emphasis for different groups,” said Kate Logan of Philadelphia and Greenwich. “It became much more than a women’s event.”

Meghan Wren, director of the Bayshore Center at Bivalve, was an example.

“I marched partly to ensure that the rising waters threatening our planet and especially this bayshore region are not ignored,” she said.

The earlier movements were filled with young people and Saturday’s had the striking demographic balance.

In the 1960s, there were two competing and mutually exclusive visions of how to bring about social change and defeat the “Establishment.” One was the non-political, gentle peace and love emphasis of the “Hippies,” while the other reflected distinctly political positions like the National Mobilization To End the War in Vietnam.

Last weekend, Washington may have seen an intriguing and effective blend of both.

On the day after inauguration, there was, of course, opposition directed toward new President—Donald Trump— but it seemed not a partisan political attack on his legitimacy and policies, but an intense personal criticism of his tone and apparent lack of respect for women and others.

It didn’t have as much to do with not giving the President a chance, but rather with trying to steer him in a more positive direction—one of kindness and understanding, equality and inclusion.

Lisa Garrison of Fairton agreed. “This wasn’t anti-Trump. This was instead an affirmation of the values of love and respect,” she said.

Jeanne Doremus of Hopewell Township was only a little more political: “After years of protecting women’s status in society, I am extremely dismayed by the country’s direction. I’m marching to show the need for this administration to support equal treatment of women and demonstrate respect.”

A protester from Millville who requested her name not be used because of her high-profile job, went further, and said, “It’s almost like the President asked for this with his crude comments about women.”

Zirkle pointed out that there was little tit-for-tat, though: “I think everyone sees [President] Trump for what he is, but today we rose above him with a loving message.”

In defying what they perceive as President Trump’s anti-woman sentiment, the women on the bus were strengthening each other to survive it.

“I’m thinking of it as a pep rally before the game,” said Penny Watson of Greenwich, who organized the trip. “A rally of bonding and support before the four long years.”

DeMarco agreed: “For me, the march was a time of joy and elation at being together, and immense satisfaction at seeing how many others are of like mind.”

“I soaked up some hope,” said Osofsky.

Lisa Garrison led the busload of activists in a singalong on the bus. “We all went back into the mode of summer campers,” she said.

The bus left Bridgeton at 6:45 a.m. and returned at 9:30 p.m. The women and men, most over 50 and some in their 80s, rode for eight hours round trip, rallied for about four more and walked eight miles because the buses had to park far away and the Metro subway was hardly accessible due to the crowds.

“That’s 22,000 steps for those of us with Fitbits,” said Zirkle.

Most of the demonstrators see a bigger, lasting movement springing from what they viewed as a rousing, successful event.

“It’s definitely beginning,” said Gardner. “I think it’s safe to say we’re kind of a majority. Every 10 days, we’re getting a new thing to do [from the national organizers]. The first one came today—we’re all going to tell our senators about why we joined the Women’s March and what we experienced.”

“See you next time,” many said as they stepped off the bus.

Comments: mickeybrandt@comcast.net Follow on Twitter: @Mickey_Brandt

Read the full article at http://www.evergreeneditions.com/article/Sisters+Unite/2694160/379064/article.html.

Locals Attend Inauguration

Nick Pittman

A peaceful transition of power—it is the cornerstone of a strong democracy, the cornerstone of our great nation. The 2016 election is one that will be talked about for years to come.

I had the great honor of attending this year’s inauguration. I attended not as a Republican or a Democrat, but as an American. A monumental occasion that symbolizes American power. That is what interests me. That is also what interests 91-year-old Harold Smick (pictured) of Elinsboro, Salem County, who has attended every inauguration since FDR. He has witnessed 14 men take the oath to preserve, defend and protect the U.S. Constitution.

“It just keeps getting better and better every time,” Smick told me. “I am a registered Democrat, but I believe in supporting whoever steps into that office. I will support President Trump and wish him all the best.”

Smick has a personalized message from each president in his collection and he plans to get one from President Trump.

It’s refreshing to see people from all over the country put their disagreements aside and come together for the sake of our country’s future. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, one that I will never forget. I am looking forward to taking on a new tradition, like Harold Smick, and attend every inauguration from 2021 forward. Wish me luck!

Read the full article at http://www.evergreeneditions.com/article/Locals+Attend+Inauguration/2694162/379064/article.html.

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