Lisa Marie Simon of Port Washington never got close to the celebrity speakers at the rally where the march to the White House was gathering Saturday, but no matter. It was, she said, a wonderful success, and empowering.
Share VanDervort of Sayville managed to catch the celebrities and got close to the White House with the march. “The camaraderie between men, women and children was fantastic,” said VanDervort, 58.
They were some of many Long Islanders who boarded buses and trains early Saturday morning to join the flood that gridlocked the streets of the nation’s capital in the Women’s March on Washington.
And whatever their experience, the aftermath was a kind of joy.
“I am proud to be a part of history and it was breathtaking to be in the midst of so many people,” said Cheri Mulholland, 63, a full-time grandmother from Hicksville.
“I feel a sense of exhilaration and empowerment and I feel so much better than I did yesterday,” said Mulholland’s cousin Carol Moore, 62, an attorney from Huntington, referring to Inauguration Day. “To see so many young people so engaged and passionate, it gives me hope,” she said.
The crowd was passionate but peaceful, friendly marchers admiring each others’ signs, dogs and babies.
The signs were saucy and defiant: Feminism, backed by popular demand. BLOTUS: Biggest Liar of the United States. And the ever-popular Woman’s Rights are Human Rights.
On a bus at the North Hills parking lot of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Shelter Rock, many congregants and others gathered for a 4:01 a.m. departure. Some were mothers and daughters, one as young as 12. And that meant something to all of them.
Laura Liepa, 52, of Huntington, who teaches elementary school, went to the march with her daughter Chloe, 17.
“I’m here for my daughter. I want to be a role model,” Liepa said, noting that she had been shaped by the protests of the ‘60s that she was far too young to participate in.
“This is the first time I’ve been moved to act, to do something. I don’t want to be passive. There’s so much unkindness and a lack of empathy. I don’t want her to think that’s OK.”
The Long Island marchers said they hoped their voices reached the ears of those in Congress on issues of women’s rights, climate, tolerance and democracy.
But Moore, who is a law clerk to a state Supreme Court justice, struck a conciliatory note. She said the Trump voters she knew were “good, fine people who would never hurt anybody.”
She said it would be her mission to listen more, and to try to understand as the only way to heal the divide of an increasingly polarized nation.
But, she said, she would continue to protest and raise her voice. “Of course,” she smiled.