GALION — When Lake Galion resident Lisa Riedel learned about the March on Washington, she sprang into action, organizing a trip to the event that was held on Saturday in Washington D.C. and drew in more than 500,000 women, men, and children of all races, ethnic backgrounds, gender, sexual orientation and religions.
“I have experienced so much stress since the election. It was such a relief to meet so many wonderful people who had been feeling the same way I have about the election of Donald Trump,” Riedel said.
Riedel said she went to the march primarily in support of women’s rights.
“We still do not have all the rights that we should, such as equal work for equal pay, and the rights we do have are being threatened by this new administration,” Riedel said. “I was in a position that I could take a few days off work, and so were my friends, to attend the main march in D.C.”
Sister marches were held across the country and the world, all of them drawing crowds much larger than expected.
“I have two nieces in college, three still in school and one is a mom who owns her own business so they could not take time off to attend any of the marches and the rights of women that are being threatened, affect them directly so I felt it was my place to march, for me and for them,” she said.
Riedel’s friend, Kristin Ellis, said she also went to the march in defense of women’s rights.
“Women’s pregnancies are being criminalized. Men in power should not be legislating our bodies,” Ellis said. “If we cannot be trusted to make choices, how can we be trusted with a child.”
Beverly Morgan lives in Bucyrus and also made her way to the march with Riedel.
“I am very concerned about the environment, especially our water,” Morgan said. “The march was amazing and I was in awe of how many men came to support the women in their lives.”
Melanie Seaman lives in Mansfield and like most of the people who attended the marches, donned a pink hat to show unity in the protest against hatred, bigotry, racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia and the sexual assault on women that the current president, Donald Trump, represents.
“Women’s rights are under attack right now as our so many other rights. It was amazing to me that every social injustice issue we are currently dealing with was represented at the march including Black Lives Matter, environmental issues, immigration, all human issues,” Seaman said.
Hannah Hess, 17, a student at Wynford High School, attended the march with her mom, Linda.
“I was not happy with the results of the election. The current president does not hold the same values I do and I wanted to do something to take a stand, which is why I went to the march in Washington D.C.,” said Hannah. “It was so nice to be around so many nice people that I could have conversations with about the issues we are facing.”
Linda said her daughter wanted to go and she knew it would be a great experience for her.
“It was a wonderful way for us to become involved, but the march was just the first step. We must continue to take action to protect all human rights that are in jeopardy right now,” Linda said.
Missie Striker made her way from Bucyrus to Columbus to meet up with her daughter, Rachel Striker, to head to D.C., via one of the more than 1,200 buses from across the country that transported people to and from the march.
Rachel said the march has a different meaning for each participant.
“I marched so I could sleep at night. I am sick thinking that the words of this man (Trump) could be mistaken for my heart,” said Rachel. “I marched to let the people I know and love who are frightened and scared that this isn’t okay, that we’re not going to allow our country to be pushed back 50 years. I marched for Planned Parenthood, for PBS and NPR, for the strength to overcome.”
Rachel said that she left the march feeling empowered by so many people who feel the same way she does.
“I felt invigorated knowing that people would not just sit idly and normalize such reprehensible behavior. I felt proud that people from all walks of life with varying concerns and issues could come together so peacefully so that we all could be heard,” Rachel said.
Michelle Pickett Coleman grew up in Bucyrus, but lives in Michigan. She made her way to D.C. with her daughter, Cara Coleman.
“We are both very supportive of progressive ideals — Big Bernie supporters — and the march sounded like something we’d both be into. It was the best thing we’ve done together in years, a real once-in-a-lifetime event,” said Michelle.
Michelle said she and her daughter did not get too far out of Ohio before they began running into increasingly larger groups of woman of all ages, also heading for Washington.
“You could spot a pink hat from a mile away. Two nice young women from Kent gave Cara a hat. One of them was knitting her way from Ohio to Maryland,” Michelle said.
Michelle said she was very impressed with all of the men and women who attended the march.
“All of the young men and woman I saw marching, carrying signs touting their chosen causes, and really listening, and responding to, the hours of speeches gave me hope that they are willing to do the hard work required to get things back on track,” Michelle said. “They appear to be more politically savvy than we were at their age. I hope they keep their hope and enthusiasm. They’re going to need it.”
Reach Gasuras on Twitter: @kimberlygasuras