Saturday, July 25, 2009

We Shall Overcome

Tonight, we attended the vigil and procession to replace the burned rainbow flag from the Unitarian church in my town. This post explained what had happened last week, which made so many of us quite sad and concerned.
The vigil began at a park in the Square at the center of town. My husband and I walked down at about 5:45, and wondered if anyone else would show. As we came closer to the Square, I began hearing drumming, and sure enough, there was a quartet of drummers in the park, holding their rainbow flags and grooving to a great beat. A small handful of people, none we knew, were milling about the small park. I felt a little uncomfortable not knowing anyone, but since this was not church that was affected, I was not surprised. I certainly was not too uncomfortable that I had to leave - I felt strongly about why I was there, and my shyness began to warm to the idea that maybe I would meet some new people from town.
Well, a few minutes later, and about another 75 people, I had found several people to talk to - some I knew and some I didn't. Some I recognized and some I didn't. After an hour, there were well over 150 people present, all lining the Square, waving flags and signs that said:

Our Town is No Place for Hate
I Am on This Side of Love
And as many rainbow flags and signs as you can imagine. One man danced around with his rainbow towel wrapped around him. Turns out, he came from over an hour away.

After waving to an hour's worth of Square traffic, we paraded up the street to the church to hang the new flag, complete with police escort (I loved that). It took a good 20 minutes to get everyone up to the lawn, and we made a huge circle of people, surrounding the minister. We sang a few verses of "We Are Gentle Angry People", listened to the minister speak about love and adversity, and watched as the new flag was hung in an even more prominent place for the whole town to see. We finished the event with several verses of "We Shall Overcome", as we automatically held hands with the person next to us. Due to all the people present, we all had to back up to include everyone, making the most enormous circle on the church grounds. It was touching - I hardly knew anyone, yet I felt such connection to everyone there. I was welcomed even though I did not attend the church. It was a humanitarian event, rather than a religious event, and all were welcome. The minister asked what towns people were from. I thought, "How funny" as I just assumed these were all people from my town, I just didn't know them. But no, they were from all over my state, happy to attend such an event - as a flag burning effects us all, no matter where you are from.

I was so proud to be a part of this. And walking up the hill to our house, our hearts warmed again to see our own rainbow flag gracing the front of our house, declaring our support of all the colors of humankind.


goldenbird said...

That gathering sounds powerful. How wonderful that people came from all over the state. I can just imagine how proud you felt. I loved reading about it.

Dogwood said...

Thanks for sharing such a meaningful and powerful event. I wish I was there. I am a true supporter of diversity and all the wonderful people who live in our world. I can tell you are a proud lady and I am proud of you. Hugs, Cory Dogwood

Jill said...

Thank you Stacy and Cory-
I love that you support me and my concerns.

Be well-


Barbara Bechtel said...

What a positive outcome to such a disturbing thing. Thanks for your posts about this, it is positive to know that so many people came together to overshadow the mean spirited actions of a few.