Still I rise

To the editor:
The Women’s March on Washington 2017 was a quite remarkable weekend and a gracious, purposeful march by women and men of all ages, ethnicities, interests, and concerns.
We returned home yesterday afternoon. My daughter-in-law, Christie Ruesink, and her friend, Traci Phelps, did all the driving, so I was free to talk with Traci’s daughters and my granddaughter, middle school and high school ages. The very thoughtful young women had made lists of their personal concerns and reasons for joining the march. To them, equality is not an ideal, it is a way of life; they cannot imagine another way to live. They are also deeply concerned about schools, paying for college, and our environment.
For me, the sign an elder (like me) held that said “I can’t believe I still have to protest this (sh**)!” spoke volumes. I’m 68, born the last day of 1948. I grew up with my four siblings, first in a nice little post war neighborhood in a small house surrounded back yard/front yard by a white picket fence. We moved into another new house in 1957, a house close to Adrian College. Ours was the idyllic 50’s existence for children: bicycle all over town, most significantly to the public library, play outside till the street lights came on, fear nothing more awful than losing the signal on the TV.
Then came Sputnik and my world expanded to include the fear of nuclear arms testing. Our local newspaper, the Adrian Daily Telegram, ran a small world map every day on the front page that showed where the cloud of fallout from Soviet testing was passing. The memory of the fear I felt as a child is visceral. It came raging back into my conscious mind as we listened to Mr. Trump’s speech on Friday.
So I marched. Again. I marched with a prayer for humankind, for “peace in our time.” Again.
I marched for equality of education and opportunity. It is an obscenity that wealth born and borne on the backs of others is condoned, that our laws protect that wealth by denying health care and living wages to others.
I marched for our environment, that it not be destroyed by the greed of the few to the detriment of all. I marched for women around the world who hold their families together, often times in the face of horrific circumstances of poverty and violence.
I marched for Three Rivers, Michigan, my home for 45 years. I know where I live and I love where I live. I know our county is historically conservative, but I know, too, my friends and neighbors for miles around are good and kind and thinking and fair. I marched for our resilience. I marched for our compassion.
The March on Saturday was gracious and purposeful. The crowd (of yes, 500,000, really!) was determined to show not just strength in our numbers, but to act on that strength as we return home. The speakers were inspiring. Ashley Judd was on fire; Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis were calmer but no less insistent that we are still ... STILL ... in need of ensuring chances and choices for all of us.
I’m old now, a very happy grandmother, retired teacher, wife, mother, neighbor, reader, student, gardener, and chicken lady. I have a good life. But I cannot rest until we are closer to economic fairness, closer to social equality, closer to our own humanity, closer to peace.
So. Still I rise.
Leilani Ruesink
Three Rivers

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