GUEST BLOG: Why She Marched; One Woman’s Patriotic Journey.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare of, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” There it is: the Preamble. Our nation’s “mission statement.” I know it by heart. Truly with heart and soul. Sometimes I have to sing the song that goes with it, but I have it committed to memory. Because I believe in it. Because it matters.
I am the great-granddaughter of immigrants: immigrants with a third-grade education who came to this country at the turn of the century, who settled in the lower east side of Manhattan only to live in more deplorable conditions than the ship that brought them here.
They worked in the garment district. They worked hard. But early on, they fell in love with the ideals of their new country-- the country they would soon call their own. They did it all so the next generation could have the opportunity promised to them by the ideals set forth in the Preamble of the United States Constitution.
To be able to Rise Up and ”Secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
None of my grandparents, first generation Americans, graduated high school. All of their grandchildren have post-graduate degrees. Hard work mixed with opportunity and fairness and love all taught me how exactly to Rise Up! I am a living example of the American Dream. And I believe in that too, with all my heart and soul, that this is the foundation of our great nation.
I am the granddaughter and great niece of decorated World War 2 veterans who fought bravely for the country they loved, all first generation Americans. Both of my grandfathers were purple-heart recipients.
I am the step-daughter of a United States Naval Boatswain's Mate Seaman who was sent on a ship one night in 1962 to sit in the Caribbean Sea outside the shores of Cuba.
They were all asked to Rise Up. And they did.
I was a “liberal” before I ever knew what the word “liberal” meant. “I pledge allegiance to the flag. . . . and Liberty and Justice for all.” Since as far back as I can remember, human rights have been my thing. I believe in humanity, that all people are equal. That all people deserve the blessings of liberty. That all people should be allowed the opportunity to Rise Up.
Immediately after the Preamble comes the seven Articles, and then the Amendments, twenty-seven in all. The first ten are called The Bill of Rights. Now let’s talk about the very First Amendment.
The First Amendment says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
So the creators of this Amendment not only intended to protect our freedom of speech but most likely hoped this measure would ensure that whatever flaws existed in the Constitution at the time of drafting could be subject to correction as history unfolded. They knew it was a living document and that it could only be improved by the People, for the People, and therefore provided that injustices could be corrected though this “redress of grievances.” And Hallelujah, they have! Over the course of our short history as a nation, people have protested, people have assembled, the press has exposed injustices, and, as a result, our country has moved closer and closer towards the ideals on which it was initially founded, in the mission statement, the Preamble: “. . . secure the Blessings of Liberty. . . .”
Those same founding fathers call to us from the graves; they call for us to Rise Up. They said then and they say now that not only is it our right to peacefully protest, our right to assemble, and our right to march, but it is, in fact, our civic duty to do so.
They require us to Rise Up.
So last week, I marched for, I stood with, and I Rose Up.
I marched for all the times I was afraid. (I am not afraid anymore).
I marched for my daughter.
I marched for my son.
I marched for my immigrant great-grandparents.
I marched for my mother and my grandmothers and my aunts.
I marched for the sisterhood.
I marched for the brotherhood.
I marched for the children; for all the children, but especially for those with disabilities.
I marched for the elderly and the sick.
I marched for my friends: my friends of every race, religion, ethnicity, immigration status, and sexual orientation.
I marched for the friends I have yet to meet.
I marched for the strangers I may never meet.
I marched for the founders of this country who made sure I could march.
I marched for those who have marched before me.
I marched for country.
I marched for love.
I marched for peace.
I marched for equality.
I marched for fairness.
I marched for liberty for all.
I marched for justice for all.
If you don’t already know the Preamble, today would be a good day to learn it.
Last week, I marched for. Today and everyday I stand with. Today, and every day, We Rise UP!
The Women's March on Washington? Yeah, I was there.
--By Roseann Cetta Rappoccio
Roseann Cetta Rappoccio is a Mother, Educator, Human Rights Advocate, and Writer.