Newtown, Parkland, Buffalo, Uvalde. When is "Enough is Enough!" We have another pandemic in America. It is the pandemic of gun violence and mass shootings. I've marched locally before but this time I felt led to make the long journey to Washington, DC last Saturday for the March for Our Lives rally. Congress this very week is in the process of negotiating and passing the most significant gun safety legislation in decades. Pray that our leaders will wake up and do their job – protect the health and safety of its citizens and indeed our children.
It's a four-hour drive from northern NJ and thankfully I had my church friend, Brian, to join me and make quite a day of it. The drive down went smoothly, non-stop but we got lost on foot, misinterpreting Google maps. There were probably some 5000 at the Washington monument with about a dozen speakers from Manuel Oliver (father of a Parkland victim), David Hogg (survivor of Parkland and co-founder of MFOL), the mayor of DC to Randi Weingarten (President of the AFT). One of the most interesting things at the rally were the many signs and posters (see below). At the midpoint, they asked for a moment of silence for the victims of Uvalde. As we bowed our heads in prayer, I heard a faint loud voice way up front shouting something. I looked up to see a stream of people running for their lives out to our right. Then all of a sudden people in front of Brian and I started running back toward us away from the front. I looked around and didn't see anything wondering why all the people were running. I turned myself getting ready to depart but then a stage person shouted in the mic "Stop Running!" and everyone calmed down and returned to the rally. It was quite unnerving but apparently some people thought the guy shouting said "I have a gun" and ran, creating panic and fear. Six people were injured and a Florida man was arrested. The event continued with stirring speeches from David Hogg and Randi Weingarten. A young lady named X Gonzalez (also a Parkland survivor) was among the last speakers; her speech was also rather "x-rated." The event ended but to our surprise, there was no actual "march."
One may ask, what good attending such a rally will do? Well, for one thing it will raise the profile of public anger against gun violence in the country and put public pressure on our leaders to act. In a democracy, elected officials do and must listen to the people and the voters. Secondly, it also spreads and expands the movement to more people. When David Hogg spoke, he asked everyone to text "next" to 954-954 for next steps to get involved like contacting your senator. Like any not-for-profit or advocacy organization, they also requested money and it's important to give to causes you believe in even if you can't attend these rallies. For the full live video streaming, click here.
While we were in DC, we decided to do some sight-seeing. I was here last year for the Chinese American WWII Recognition Ceremony and got a new appreciation of all that our nation's capital offers. We thought about visiting the Museum of the Bible and the Spy Museum but all tickets were sold out. Still, there was plenty to do and that we did. The rally ended around 2:30 pm and we tried to get into the Museum of African American History and Culture but all the tickets had been given out already. All the Smithsonian Museums and the Zoo in DC are free but timed-entry tickets are still needed for the African American museum and the Zoo. So, we visited the National Museum of American History nearby. After that, we saw the WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Memorial. My older brother Peter actually served in Vietnam but unfortunately died of an accident after returning home from the war. Btw, you may be interested to learn that Congress and President Biden just passed into law a commission to study the possibility of creating a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture in Washington DC!
Brian wanted to visit the Jefferson Memorial but I had my doubts as it is a long way by foot across the Tidal Basin. We did it anyway (see pictures above), had a nice late dinner and headed back to Jersey. All in all, it was a long, tiring but good day in our nation's capital. We're actually planning a trip next summer to DC for the Museum of the Bible and more. Wanna join us?