A Conversation From the March for Our Lives 2018

March for Our Lives 2018This gentleman, Tom, was the first marcher. On a windy and chilly early morning, we spotted a lone man dressed in red waving a flag sitting by himself on the bench facing the road away from us working inside in Town Hall. I went out and introduced myself, holding an extra MFOL button, to give him not knowing if he was a supporter or not. Inside, everyone thought he was a protester. “Well, there is our first protester!” I asked, “Why do you say that?” They said, “Because he’s waving the flag.” I replied, “Why should that be? We own patriotism.” I thought at a minimum, if I’m mistaken and he is a veteran, I can always thank him for his service.

I introduced myself and asked, “Are you a veteran?” He said, “No, I’m not. Just a proud American.” I said, “Me, too. Thank you for being here.” (I just assumed he was a supporter because why not?) His lips quivered and with a wavering quiet voice, Tom said, “It’s just too much. It’s not right.” I said yes in agreement, not sure if he meant our speaking for gun safety legislation is not right or the deaths due to gun violence wasn’t right. So I jumped off a cliff and said, “Thank you for coming to support us.” Then his reply stunned me, “I’m here because my grand-daughter who is in 2nd grade, is afraid of going to school because of guns. I’m a retired school teacher and I used to be an NRA member a while ago.” I said, “I understand and thank you so much for your support. Would you like a button?” With tears flowing, Tom said, “It would be my honor.”

So I went back inside and brought out the lead student organizer, Bella (and other volunteer students), out so I could introduce them. Here was our pic of that moment.

Let’s continue to have these conversations. Even if they are dressed in red and waving our American flag. They *may* or may not agree with us. But change begins with conversations, no negative assumptions, and reaching out. You might find an ally.

Winn Khuong
Executive Director
ATNJ

Join us for the next steps to taking back the House! We are busy registering voters and banking the BLUE votes! Let’s vote IN candidates who will vote our values.