A year ago, a group of patriotic, hard-working, honest local citizens gathered in response to the election of a new president and the support of that president by the Republican Congress.
From the beginning, our purpose has been clear. We will not sit idly by as the hard-fought rights of workers, women, LGBTQ, those with disabilities, and voters are systematically dismantled in favor of a system that favors the ultra-wealthy and powerful.
We will not sit idly by as our cherished investigative press is demeaned and vilified.
We will not sit idly by as the Affordable Care Act is sabotaged.
We will not sit idly by as our immigrant community and friends of color are maligned.
And we will not sit idly by as our president rules by ridicule and tweet.
Our group is Action for a Better Tomorrow – Sauk Valley. We cherish the vision of a better tomorrow in which we all have affordable health care, all citizens have equal access to voting rights, and quality public education is supported.
We began our public journey by marching in the Dixon St. Patrick’s Day parade wearing hot pink Resist and Persist shirts and carrying protest signs. A month later, we marched through the streets of Dixon protesting the president’s refusal to reveal his income tax returns as he had repeatedly promised he would do.
Despite the fact that there would be no USA without the tradition of protest, we were criticized by a few local residents in part because our group did not display the America flag in those events. We took that critique seriously. We are proud Americans and love our flag.
From May through October, Action for a Better Tomorrow – Sauk Valley marched in 10 community parades. We didn’t just march. We distributed alms – 10,000 American flags to the community members lining the streets throughout the Sauk Valley.
We were overjoyed by the response. Children thanked us and said, “Oh, I love our flag!” Adults reached out to get a flag of their own. We tucked flags in strollers and wheelchairs and police uniforms. It has been an amazing experience to share the love of our country with the citizens of the Sauk Valley.
If you love this country, you should actively participate. You will have an opportunity to vote on March 20, 2018, in the primary election and again on Nov. 6 in the general election.
But you can do more. You can run for office. You can sign petitions for those you support who are giving up so much to run for political office. You can learn about the candidates and their positions. You can call, write, and meet with your representatives in government. You can contribute to the campaigns of those you want to see elected. And yes, you can protest when you disagree with the direction our country is going.
This is a free country, but many of our freedoms are under grave threat. You can make a difference.
Action for a Better Tomorrow – Sauk Valley meets each Wednesday at noon at the Lee County Democractic Party Headquarters, River and Hennepin streets, Dixon. ABT – Sauk Valley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note to readers: Sarah Bingaman, an adjunct faculty member at Sauk Valley Community College, is a retired elementary school teacher. She also taught at Dominican University in River Forest and College of DuPage.