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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

More Than Just Mother's Day

This weekend many of us will be sending cards and gifts as tokens of appreciation for our mothers, godmothers, step-mothers, foster mothers and countless "honorary" mothers. Still others of us will be hopping on planes, trains and automobiles en route to surprising our mothers at home. However, there will also be a "million" mothers and others on Sunday spending the day in a markedly different way -- at the "Million Mom March."

The idea was conceived about nine months ago by one mother, Donna Dees-Thomases, in the living room of her New Jersey home. With a little help from the Internet, and a lot of help from her own convictions and mothers across the country, this rally has grown and attracted the national attention it rightfully deserves. Following the recent Earth Day Rally two weeks ago and the Gay Rights Rally one week ago, the "Million Mom March" will be convening on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and promises to be an entire day devoted to a peaceful discussion on the contentious issue of gun control.

The "Million Mom March" comes as a much-needed response to the many tragedies that have afflicted our schools and social centers throughout the past few years. This rally will be an attempt on the part of mothers and others passionate about the issue to send a message to Congress that the NRA is not the only group powerful enough to influence legislation. According to Thomases, "With thousands of mothers and others on the National Mall, we will put Congress on notice that common sense gun policy -- specifically licensing and registration -- is the will of the people."

From day to day, we often become consumed with our individual routines, responsibilities and commitments. We tend to lose sight of, and appreciation for, one of our most powerful and constitutionally protected rights -- our voice. The work of countless scholars, and of course history, have proven the power of public opinion's influence on the policy making process. And, despite the claims and complaints of the cynical, the voice of the American people can and does affect the making of public policy.

In sitting down to do some research for this column, I was overwhelmed by the myriad letters and sentiments posted on the march's website (www.millionmommarch.com) from mothers, fathers, and other people from all the over the country wanting to use their voice.A teacher from Massachusetts wrote, "In 1985, my brother was shot during a holdup by an angry man who had been jilted by his girlfriend. John survived but the scars remain, both emotionally and physically, to this day. As a 6th grade teacher I try and pass on to my students the power of language rather than the power of a gun or a violent act. As a mother of two boys, Jon and Jeff, and two step-sons, Ben and Jack, my wish is that their world will be a safe place for them to build their lives and that of their families -- void of the violence brought on by handguns. We have a long road ahead of us. But this joining of a million moms not only sends a message today but sends a message into the future -- we need to take charge -- this is one powerful but peaceful step toward that goal."

This Million Mom March is even inspiring seasoned protesters who rallied during their youth against the Vietnam War. According to a woman from Missouri, "Children are not targets. Guns are not toys. I marched on the Pentagon against the Vietnam War. I am honored to have been there with thousands of others trying to stop the madness and injustice. Now this issue of gun control will bring me to D.C. again. I thank the organizers for the opportunity to march with my daughter and participate in voicing our collective mothers' opinions about this very critical issue in our country."

And most importantly, the March is not just about a women's movement. It is resonating with men too. A man from Alabama writes, "I'm not a Mom, just a 64 year old grandpa who agrees with what you're doing. I've long had the feeling that conventional politics and politicians would never address this issue. This march and, hopefully, its follow-on initiatives, will get our country started on the road to responsible gun ownership laws."

Opponents of gun control legislation cite laws requiring the registration and licensing of all guns as a slippery slope to the infringement of a constitutional right. However, march organizers stress that this rally "is not about banning guns. The Million Mom March is about common sense gun laws."

The timing of the march is appropriate as it comes when the Senate is stalled on gun control legislation. Right now, the Senate is negotiating the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as it does every five years. However, the bill is loaded with several gun-control amendments that would no doubt incite a partisan battle. Because gun control is a most salient issue in this election year, both parties are careful to control the discussion so as to ensure the most optimal public relations opportunities. Thus, the bill has been tabled for a week, or at least until after Sunday.

Mother's Day is a day to celebrate the very special and important women in our lives. Perhaps this Sunday it will also be an opportunity for the men and women in this country, and in the seats of our government, to listen to the voice of their collective mother.