Saturday, January 19, 2008

downtown on a Saturday afternoon

After chores and lunch I went downtown on foot, on the way to a brisk walk. I've been diagnosed with high cholesteral, so I'll be doing a lot of brisk walking from now on, although I enjoy meandering a lot more. But that's not what I wanted to write about. On my way downtown I saw the blue lights of a police car and realized a street march was starting from the City Hall parking lot. When I got paralell on the street with the marchers I could see their placards. It was an anti-abortion rally. It happened that the marchers and I were walking the same route, although any similarity between myself and them stopped there. I looked at the marchers as I walked along. I realized after a few minutes that I didn't recognize anyone. At the time I thought the marchers were from out of town, that they had been imported for the event, which is entirely possible. But it's also possible the couple hundred people were local and I just didn't recognize any of the faces on the street because their lives and mine just don't intersect.

There was something else I noticed as I was walking down the street. It was very quiet. The marchers weren't chanting, they were mostly just talking among themselves. There was hardly anyone on the sidewalks that lined the marcher's route, and the car traffic was thin. It wasn't until I had almost reached the Post Office when drivers started honking their approval. One car honked all the way down the block. It wasn't much, though.

I'm thinking about the pro-choice rally I attended back in 1992 (I think that was the year) here in Montpelier. 5,000 people were estimated to have attended. I somehow ended up at the head of the parade (there was a percussion band keeping time and I banged on a drum for awhile) and got my picture in the paper the next day (if I can find a copy of the picture I'll post it). I remember one picture that was taken during the rally. It showed the blocks from the State House up through the corner of State and Main literally filled with people. That's five city blocks of people who felt strongly about the right of women to choose their reproductive lives.

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