Friday, May 19, 2000
Carlisleans go to Million Mom March
Over a month ago, Alice Hardy and Eva Herndon of "The Juliets," a three-morning-a-week exercise group that meets in the Sleeper Room, responded to a Boston Globe article about the Boston organizer of the Mothers Day Million Mom March. They decided that they wanted to go to the Washington, D.C. event and be part of the rally designed to promote stronger gun control legislation. It didn't take much convincing to get others of us Juliets (Just Us Ladies Interested in Exercising and Talking) involved.
So it was serendipitous when Kathy Mayer, who attends First Parish in Concord, called me to say that Marguerite Stewart from her church was arranging for a bus to go to the rally. I put a notice in the First Religious Society newsletter and three members responded. All together there were eight Carlisleans who headed south in the First Parish Church bus last Saturday night, Alice, Eva and Doris Jafferian, all Juliets, Cindy Nock and her eighth-grade daughter Jessie, and Kathy Rubenstein from the First Religious Society, Kathy Mayer of First .
We departed from Concord at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night. Two ten-hour bus trips over the course of 32 hours is an experience in itself. Several of us, the older half of the group, found ibuprofen a big help. The bus seats were a bit more comfortable than plane coach seats but there is no room to get up, move around or stretch. Midway down to Washington, Doris remarked "Everyone has junk all over the place, food, pillows, blankets, masks, bodies on the floor." Half the group was from Concord and Carlisle and half from Groton and other area towns. Ages varied. The 60-70 range was well represented; there were several teen-agers, including Jessie and an exchange student from Peru, and one four-year old who handled the entire trip remarkably well.
We arrived at the Landover, Maryland Metro station at 6:30 a.m. After a wild night of storminess on the way down, the day was beautiful. The Metro ticket machines were a bit of a puzzle but the rest of the system was easy and convenient to use (Cindy ended the day with an extra $16.40 on her fare card). The eight of us, plus Barbie Chase of Concord, a buddy of Alice's, headed for the DuPont Circle apartment of my daughter Sarah and her husband Parke Wilde. Coming up on the escalator out of the DuPont Metro stop is not for the faint of heart; it is one of the world's longest escalators. It's beautiful. Cindy asked, "Are we going to the moon?"
Former Carlisle resident Mary Cliver, now of Vienna, Virginia, joined us at the apartment. Sarah and Parke gave the ten of us a wonderful, hearty breakfast and we were very happy to have the chance to use a real bathroom, brush our teeth, etc., and change into shorts. We felt rejuvenated. At 9 a.m., with Sarah leading us, we walked through the attractive, quiet DuPont Circle residential area, past outdoor sidewalk restaurants, upscale businesses, government buildings, through parks and past the White House to the Mall one-and-a-half miles away. We were seeing a city at its best (although the guards on the White House roof were disconcerting). At the White House, we heard a band playing. The president had just finished a speech to the families of gunshot victims.
On May 9, an editorial "The Greater Meaning of Mother's Day" by Hilary Selden Illick appeared in the Globe. In it she wrote, "A million moms marching to protest gun violence is precisely the sort of celebration envisioned by Bostonian Julia Ward Howe in 1872 when she first conceived of Mother's Day." As we walked on the Mall carrying the sheet banner we had made, we felt we were a part of that tradition. One side of the banner said "We members of the First Religious Society and the Juliets and others from Carlisle, Mass. support stronger gun control legislation!!" Before we left home, we and other march supporters had signed the banner and added colorful peaceful symbols of things we enjoyflowers, butterflies, hearts, a bee hive, a car, a baby carriage. The reverse side of the banner proclaimed "Happy Mothers Day. We're not having breakfast in bedwe're HERE!!"
On the Mall were two stages and two areas of tents. By 10 a.m. it was already crowded. All sorts of information on gun control issues and legislation including voting records of legislators were available. The main legislative issues addressed were the licensing of handgun owners, registration of all handguns, limiting the number of handguns a person could buy in a month, more stringent background checks and the use of safety locks. One tent was filled with computer terminals where you could register as being part of the effort. From another, cards to fill out to send to congress were distributed. Buttons and stickers reading "Million Mom MarchAin't No Stopping Us Now!," "Sensible Gun LawsSafe Kids," "Actually, guns DO kill people!" or "Real men don't need guns" were handed out. The official march tee shirts were sold out early, but others were available. In one area people were making signs to carry that read, "1 gun-$50, 1 bullet-50 cents, 1 child-priceless," "Mommy, why can't I go to the zoo?," "It's easier to child-proof a gun than bullet-proof a child," "Having a gun in the house is like having a rattlesnake under the bed."
About 11:30 a.m. the march started. It was a sort of nebulous affair that started on the Mall at 15
On May 15, the event was well covered in the media, but nowhere, not in the Globe, the New York Times or the Washington Post, did I see anything about some of the speakers who most inspired people in our group. Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense League was an orator in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. She denied that she had the virtues of great historical figures but repeated many times "I care!" Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, was a most forceful, reasoned speaker. I cannot find the text of his speech at the march but I do have a quote from a speech he gave in December which he echoed on May 14. "First and foremost, we need to see the control of guns not as a political problem but as a solemn religious obligation. Our gun-flooded society has turned weapons into idols, and the worship of idols must be recognized for what it is: blasphemy. The only appropriate religious response to idolatry is moral outrage."
We were due back at the bus at Landover at 4:30 p.m. but, after the walk back to Sarah and Parke's at a slightly slower pace (Doris asked several times "Is this a longer route?"), picking up our junk from the apartment and using the facilities, we arrived at 5:15, very sheepish. It turned out not to matter since one poor Groton teenager was still out there someplace. Happily she was found a bit later and we were on the road at 6:30 p.m. We arrived back in Concord at 4 a.m.
Alice says "It was the best Mother's Day I ever had." Jessie, our thoughts were with you on Monday as you took your MCAS test. And as Rosie O'Donnell, emcee of the march program, said, "The rally is over; the movement has just begun." We hope so.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito