By Rachel Bradle
As a person can imagine, inaugurations are always chaotic. While packed together tightly in the crowd, my classmates and I noticed people were looking towards and talking about a particular tree. Naturally, we looked in the direction of the tree, and what I saw was truly amazing. An old man was sitting in a tree, holding a sign, while refusing to heed the warnings of a security guard. While President Obama spoke about freedom and democracy, this man truly embodied what these concepts truly mean.
Yes, I’ll admit the man’s constant screaming got on my nerves at times. During some points, I could not concentrate on the speakers and the President, because all I could hear was the protester. However, the man was well within his rights under the Freedom of Speech clause located in the First Amendment.
Numerous people in the crowd were upset and uttering phrases, such as: “Someone should burn the tree down” and “That man should get the **** beaten out of him.” I’m sure they were frustrated, because they could not hear the speakers. However, no one should be threatened or physically harmed for standing up for what they believe in. Freedom of Speech and the right to speak one’s mind are key principles that make the United States of America so great. For the record, this man was protesting against abortion. Even if someone does not agree with his beliefs, they should still respect the fact that democracy is about citizen involvement in their government, which this man was certainly doing.
Maybe the inauguration was not the best time to protest; however, there is never a good time to fight for one’s beliefs. If every protester in history put off their demonstrations because of timing, progress would never be made, and the United States (as well as the world) would never evolve into something greater.
One thing people forget is the Presidential Inauguration is not just about the person being sworn in. The inauguration is about the people and the great system of democracy. It is about the people’s right to chose, voice their opinions, and matter.
My message to the man protesting and all activists out there is keep on doing what you are doing. Continue to spread your message and fight for what you think is right. Yes, the world may not understand you. The world may even deem you as “crazy” or “stupid.” Yet, all political and social activists in history faced opposition. If you truly believe in your cause, don’t back down. Don’t give up.
I want to personally thank the protester today (not for aggravating people), but for reminding us what democracy is truly about. On a day like today, we should all remember what truly matters – the right to believe in what we chose and the right to speak our minds. You do not have to agree with the man in the tree to appreciate the greatness of democracy and freedom of speech!