I didn’t realize the power of united voices until I heard them come together on January 21, 2017. I was in New York City when the women’s march was in full force, and I will never forget how they lit up the streets with their passion. Over 400,000 people participated in the march in New York, contributing to the millions that did around the world. I stood in admiration of the diversity of people who took part in the fight to protect our basic human rights. People flooded the streets with their voices, shouting, “This is what democracy looks like,” and singing, “This land is your land, this land is my land.” They marched to remind the nation that the recent inauguration does not mark the end of their dedication to promote change and equality...perhaps it only ignites it.
My mother stood next to me as we observed the protesters, and she mentioned that she had “never seen anything like this after a presidential election.” Donald Trump has truly elicited controversy within the nation (and around the world), but he has also sparked fervor amongst those who believe in standing up for what is right.
Personally, I agree with everything for which the marchers were protesting. One of the issues dealt with safeguarding a woman’s right to choose abortion and to maintain authority over her own body. If one’s religion believes aborting an unborn fetus is a sin, that is perfectly acceptable. However, I strongly believe that those faith-based convictions should not be forced onto the lives of others. The circumstances vary too greatly. For example, if a woman is raped and gets pregnant, she should have the ability to make the choice of whether or not she keeps the child. There has to be a level of respect for what a woman chooses to do with her own body and her own life.
Another issue that was protested was immigration rights. I find it so hypocritical that some people claim immigrants are not welcome. The United States was built on the basis of immigration; it is one of the most important aspects of our history as a nation. We are supposed to be the country that provides equal opportunity to people of various backgrounds. We are supposed to ensure freedom and justice for all. I fear our country has forgotten the values that were engraved into its foundation.
The marchers also stood up for LGBTQIA rights, for support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the need to take climate change seriously. After witnessing all these issues being protested, I came to the conclusion that we are, in fact, stronger together. The collected voices of those who had the courage to speak out helped me understand that everyone’s voice counts. That is a challenge I have faced my entire life – the feeling of insignificance and invisibility because of my quiet nature. However, the marchers demonstrated the perfect example of how every person has a say. Whether a person is normally timid or outspoken, we all create one intensified voice when we use them together.
Kelly Ostruszka is a senior at Somerset Academy and a member of the House of Suu Kyi. She loves traveling and going on adventures. However, most of her time is dedicated to school, creative writing, and dance. She hopes to use her love of writing to impact the world somehow--to use it for a greater purpose.