By Emma Field
I stepped off the Washington D.C. metro train, clutching my homemade signs that read, “How Many More” and “How Much Is My Life Worth” close to me in an effort to keep them from hitting anyone on the tightly crowded platform. I quickly escalated into a sea of people who were all walking in the same direction. Sharp piercing sounds from the whistles of the National Guard directing traffic and the masses of people filled the air. On every corner was a man or woman holding a clipboard and a pen asking, “Are you registered to vote?” to those walking by.
Shuffling down the road, there were dozens of signs and shirts people supporting the march had made. I made an effort to read as many as I could as I walked past. A male teacher was standing in a dominant stance with a slight smile and nodding to those who said thank you to him, wearing a t-shirt that said “I don’t need a gun to teach my students to aim higher.” This simple yet emotionally overwhelming t-shirt brought me to tears.
I entered the long pathway down Pennsylvania Avenue that was barricaded on each side to keep those who were protesting in an orderly fashion. There were police officers lining the barricades the entire way down. I looked up and could see people looking into binoculars on the roof, all which gave those marching a feeling of safety and demolished most of the fear that something terribly wrong could happen from my mind. For what seemed like almost a mile all I could see was hundreds of people holding hundreds of signs, demanding for change. Small jumbotrons were placed along the area as well, helping those who were too far away from the center get a glimpse of what was going on. It didn’t matter what you looked like or where you came from, all that mattered was the overall message. There were babies, young children, teenagers, adults, and elderly people all with the same mindset; enough is enough.
Those teachers who marched almost resembled American soldiers in a sense. I wanted to approach them and thank them for their service and thank them for helping be the change that so desperately needs to happen. At noon, what was the start of dozens of speeches with the same overall message commenced? There were students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who shared their heartbreaking yet empowering stories and their call to action. Samantha Fuentes, a high school student at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who had been shot in the thigh and faced shrapnel wounds to the face was one of the most empowering speeches of all. Fuentes even threw up during her speech yet continued. It just goes to show how relentless the people involved in this movement are.
While those who were speaking delivered their messages, the crowds of people grew quiet to listen and children climbed into cherry blossom trees to try to get a better look at those speaking. Though there was hundreds of thousands of people there, it was one of the most peaceful experiences I’ve ever encountered.
After everything was said and done, and Pennsylvania Avenue fell quiet to the speeches, call-to-actions and celebrity performances, I made my way over to the White House and to the Monument. The ground was littered with signs that myself and other protesters proudly held in the air hours before. Though the voices had quieted and the crowds had gone, the signs placed on the ground left a solemn feeling and left me proud to have taken part in something that will end up being revolutionary in the months or years to come.