SILVERDALE — “Right after the election, I was unhappy,” said Kay Daling, 66, of Silverdale. “Then I heard my sister was going to go to the Women’s March. I looked into that a little bit and said, ‘That’s something I need to do for myself.’ ”
Daling is a retired teacher and a former Navy wife. She has grown children and family across the country. Before Jan. 21, she’d never been more active in politics and protesting than writing strongly worded emails to legislators about the lack of funding for educators.
“It was sort of like an adventure,” she said.
Daling decided not long after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States that she would join her sister, from Toledo, Ohio, in Washington D.C. to march in protest.
She flew to Detroit and then traveled to her sister’s in Ohio. On Jan. 20, the day of the inauguration, she and her sister, Pat, drove to Richmond, Virginia, to meet up with Pat’s daughter and grandson, who would be joining them in D.C.
“It was just inspiring to see cars with ‘women’s march’ written on the windows,” Daling said.
On Jan. 21, the day of the march, the family woke up at 5 a.m. to catch a train into the nation’s capital. Daling said “every seat” on the train was sold out, “and everybody on the train was going to the march. So we got to talk to people and overhear conversations. It was just fun.”
In D.C., the crowds were overwhelming. Daling and her family couldn’t get close enough to the speakers to hear anything. Before the march actually got started, it took them two hours to move the length of one (admittedly long) building. But, she said, there was nothing negative about the whole experience.
“Every single side street was totally packed, coming together on Pennsylvania Avenue,” Daling recalled. “People who were resting on the bleachers left over from the inaugural parade were waving. We went by this building … I believe it was the New York Times building. There were these banners on the building, all about the First Amendment free speech rights, and I thought, ‘Wow. That’s what this is about. That is so cool.’ ”
During the march, chants regularly broke out. Daling said they joined in on some of the chants they agreed with — her favorites were “Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like” and “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” — but only listened to some of the others.
She said some people were there supporting causes she didn’t believe in, but that’s okay.
“It was just so inspiring to be part of it,” she said. “(When) we got to the train station … we talked to the people we were sitting next to. ‘Were you part of the march?’ That was the first thing out of everybody’s mouth. ‘Were you at the march?’ ‘Yes I was.’ Then you’d talk to them about where you’re from and why you’re there. It was just very uplifting.”
In the entire experience, there was really only one part that Daling felt was “negative.”
“At one of the rest stops we stopped at in Ohio … we’re talking to the cleaning lady, and she said, ‘earlier today we had to call the police,’ ” Daling said. “There were some Trump supporters and march supporters, and she had no clue who started it, but they were exchanging angry words and they called the police. And that was it. They just talked to each other angrily. That was the only negativity in the whole experience.”
Marching for what she believed in
Daling said she’s been planning to march in D.C. since the week of the election, but if she hadn’t, she would have gone to Seattle, because she felt very strongly about the issues the nation is now facing.
“When I first heard about Donald Trump, the think that struck me the most was how he called people names and said things about people,” Daling said. “In my classrooms … I totally, absolutely would never allow any kid to put down another kid. The minute anybody denigrated anybody else, I said, ‘No. Not allowed. You can not like someone, you don’t have to be somebody’s friend, you can disagree, but you do not bully and you do not call names.’ And that struck me.”
She said she’s always been “turned off from the negative politicking,” and never likes it when a candidate releases a smear campaign; all she wants to know is what that candidate stands for.
“All I was hearing was putting things down and calling names and bullying,” she said. “Literally bullying … it’s so wrong.
“And then to have someone who might be president, what I call ‘role model in chief,’ acting this way … I just can’t take it. Then he got elected, and I was going, ‘How can we live with someone who is like this?’
“I was scared. I am scared … I’m scared by this administration.”
The Women’s March in D.C., Daling said, “was so diverse” and uplifting.
“My issues were the ACA (Affordable Care Act) and treating people well,” she said. “I’m an amateur genealogist. I know where my family and my husband’s family came from, and they’re all immigrants. They came here, they worked hard, they were successful. And I know that’s the way immigrants are. So I want them in this country, cause I think it’s good for us.
“So that was my issue: immigrants and the ACA, and people being scared to lose their health coverage,” she said. “I have people in my family who needed it. They couldn’t get coverage any other way.”
She added, “We’re a nation of immigrants, and we care about people, and I want to care about people, and I want our lawmakers to understand that that’s important.”
Daling said that even days after the march, “I am still inspired.”
She’s participating in the “10 actions in 100 days” (www.womensmarch.com/100) suggested by the Women’s March organizers. She spent time over the weekend writing longhand postcards to people. She said she wrote everything out by hand “so they know that I’m putting effort into this, I’m not just regurgitating someone else’s thoughts, because I still feel so strongly about what’s happening in our country, and it’s not going the way I think America should be.”
“Fortunately,” she said, “all of my representatives agree with me, so writing to them is like preaching to the choir. So I am trying to write to people like the Speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader and just say, ‘I know I’m not your constituent, but you represent me because of your position of authority.’ ”
Daling is still wearing her pink “pussy” hat, popular during women’s marches worldwide. She said she’s still wearing it as a reminder.
“I don’t want to do one thing and let it drop,” she said. “I feel like I have an obligation, if I care, to continue it. And it’s one way for me to say, I still stand for this.”
Daling said that as a retired woman, she has the free time to stay involved, and also feels like it’s her “obligation to put in time to what is important to me and the people of our country, the people who need help.”
“We don’t treat people equally in this country,” she said. “So I’m becoming more passionate in my old age.”
Practicing self care
Many people who are actively participating in protests have been feeling overwhelmed since the election, and especially since the inauguration. It’s important to remember to take care of yourself, too. For Daling, part of practicing self-care was taking action, and having an outlet to express her point of view.
“I was so upset by the results of the election that I had trouble sleeping,” Daling said. “So finding a way for me to say how I felt and act on it … it’s helping me cope with what I consider injustice, or just inconsiderateness in our country.”
She said reaching out to so many new people, getting to know them, their issues, why they were marching, has “been really helpful.” Also helpful is the fact that she has hobbies that, to her, are healing. She’s a musician. She’s a seamstress. She quilts and makes things.
“And,” she added, “I happen to be married to an incredibly supportive person who has surprised me by, like myself, becoming … more active than he ever would’ve before.
“I have someone I can talk to, and I think that’s helped a lot,” she said. “Finding people I can be with, getting to know other people, being open to other ideas and having activities outside of the politicization (has helped my self-care).”
Daling said her message to the community boils down to this:
“In your own way, examine your conscience. What is important to you to make America great? And do, in your own way, what you can to help America be the best it can be.”
Daling plans to get more involved. She plans to stay involved. She wants to do what she can to make America great.
“I’m curious where my future will be and what I’m going to be like in a couple years,” Daling said. “Cause I’m growing. And at my age, that’s really great.”
Michelle Beahm is a reporter with the Central Kitsap Reporter and Bremerton Patriot. She can be reached at email@example.com.