Monday, March 14, 2011
My Wisconsin Experience
It was Friday afternoon and I was debating whether or not to venture up to the square to see what all was going on. When I drove up to the parking ramp as the "full" sign went off, I figured it was a sign that this is where I was supposed to be. Did I mention that even with 20,000+ protesters, I managed to find parking less than 2 blocks from the capitol? Yeah, I was pretty stoked!
When I got up to the crowd, I called my brother who was already somewhere in the mass of red and white and signs. You would think it'd be great to hear that he was already inside the capitol rotunda and I did at first.
I made my way through the sea of people and made my way into the building. As I walked down the hallway, I saw a wall of people coming towards me. With the police officers trying to make a clear path, I started to get worried that I had come just as things turned ugly (for the record, it's been over a month and there haven't been any huge disruptions) and started asking myself why I came.
I looked at the first person I saw that wasn't in the pack and asked her what was going on. She told me that Jesse Jackson was coming down the hall. Yes, the same Jesse Jackson that I have called a media whore on several occasions was here, just a few feet away from me. After seeing how much time he has spent here in Madison without the cameras rolling, I have changed my view of him. I couldn't help myself, I joined the rest of the pack and held my cell phone as high as I could and got a good picture of him talking to the media. (I really hope I can get that picture off the cellphone memory card that took a bath...)
That was only a minorly cool thing compared to what I experienced for the next hour. I stood in the rotunda, soaking in the history that was being made in front of my eyes. I joined the chants even though I was uncertain at this point where I stood on the bill that was being protested. I cried a little as a boy not much older than my own rode through the capitol on his firefighter dad's shoulder as their union paraded through the building, complete with bagpipes and drums.
And then, it happened... I was a part of the coolest thing that may ever happen inside the Wisconsin Capitol. The National Anthem was sung by every person standing in that building. It's one thing to hear thousands of people singing it at a ball game, it's completely different to hear it sung in a building filled with people fighting for what they believe in.
Even if I do not make it down there again while the rallies are taking place, I can know that I have taken my place in Wisconsin, and possibly national, history.