The unexpected events that took place as 850,000 people marched in front of the Capitol demanding legislative action on gun control
By Julia Walker
Turning on the news on Feb. 14 and hearing about the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting left gun violence and school safety embedded in the minds of family, classmates, and myself. Thoughts lingered when entering school for the next month: “What if what happened to Parkland happens to us? What are the community and country actually doing to keep us safe?”
This is why my mom and I bought tickets to attend March for Our Lives in Washington D.C, along with 850,000 others of various races, political views and religions.
At the Capitol, the sky was blue, and pink cherry blossom tree flowers floated through the street. Vibrant-lettered signs and hundreds of people gathered at 8:30, three hours before the march actually began. Conversations with strangers emerged about opinions regarding how to protect schools and what specific legislative action was needed. Growing up experiencing an extreme divide between political parties, I was surprised when gun owners and Second Amendment supporters had calm conversations with liberal-minded individuals. Those who joined the march stood together under the fact that they cared. We cared about keeping our country and youth safe. We cared about limiting violence we see every week in the paper. We cared about change.
500,000 people attended the Women’s March. 100,000 attended Iraq War Protest. 250,000 attended March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech. March for Our Lives had an attendance of 850,000, making it the largest single-day protest in national history.
Hearing speeches about brothers, sisters, and friends dying in schools and cities often left the crowd still and silent. Suddenly, waves of eruption and passionate shouts for governmental action thundered through the city. Signs saying “Save children not guns” and “Hunting season is over” were held over the crowd.
Getting into the press section of the march and meeting Emma Gonzalez, Delaney Tarr, David Hogg, and other Parkland students made me realize how much they are sacrificing. Roaring of cameras clicking and yelling of reporters in small canvas tents sent me through a roller coaster of disbelief, excitement, and being completely overwhelmed. At times, my legs trembled and my eyes welled with tears, and I realized just how tired and overwhelmed Parkland students must feel. The country watches them, criticizes them, and depends on them to make change. These students are doing hundreds of interviews and spend Friday nights planning nationwide marches instead of doing homework or spending time with family.
We are told our whole lives that power lies in the people. I never fully understood this until March 24. No matter how old, young, or educated somebody is, they can always stand up for their beliefs. Seeing the influence that this country’s citizens have on the future was an almost un-processable experience that will forever be in my memory and my heart. This was not a moment. It is a movement.