My wife followed the organizing for the event via Facebook. They were anticipating 4,000 people. The unofficial crowd estimate reported in the local media is that 10,000 people showed up.
Given the size of the crowd, even though we arrived about 40 minutes early and were just across a narrow parking area from the Capitol steps where the speakers were, we could not see the speakers. And some of them we could not hear too well either. And if the speaker was too soft spoken the crowd around us would begin talking among themselves. As I heard one person near me say, when we hear the people in front start cheering or clapping we do too.
Among the speakers were the Governor, the state Comptroller, and at least one state legislator. The leaders of several organizations that deal with women's issues, especially violence against women, spoke as well.
But what I took away from this and will remember is not anything any of the speakers said. What struck me the most was the energy of the crowd. Yes, people are angry, but mostly there was a celebratory mood. This was a happy and festive crowd. And determined.
The other thing both my wife and I noticed was the diversity of the crowd. And I don't just mean in terms of color or sexual orientation or gender identity. There was a big variety of ages as well. And yes there were lots of men present as well.
We were pleased to find out as the day went on, and via messages later that our families, on both sides were doing their civic duty throughout the country. Two nephews and the older nephews spouse marched in Vermont. Our older son was among the 120,000 plus marching in Boston. A cousin and her young daughter walked in the NYC march. Besides our friends from town, my sister-in-laws daughter and one of our nieces both marched in DC. Another cousin was part of the yuuuuuge crowd marching in LA. And another nephew did some extra shifts at his work in Philadelphia so a co-worker could attend the DC march.
And it wasn't just blue states either. A retired teacher who is a friend of my wife's went to Austin, TX so they could babysit for her daughter-in-laws children so that the daughter-in-law could attend the march in DC. While there, my wife's friend attended the march in Austin. And my ex-brother-in-law marched in Murray, KY.
In these dark times these rallies and marches are uplifting. It is good to see we are not alone and that all is not hopeless. It is important for people to get engaged and stay engaged. We can only hope that all the people who showed up throughout the country and the world will find ways to get involved and take positive actions to make things better. And even if that doesn't translate directly to political activity, let's hope it at least means working in other ways with organizations on the front lines of so many issues. And that it translates at the least to registering and voting!
The final memories we have of the event in Hartford were some of the signs. They ranged from provocative, to eye-catching to clever and funny. Including a random sample below.
Be the Hope. Be the Change. Be the Resistance.