Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Doing Our Part for Children

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Doing Our Part for Children

Article excerpt

It's early Monday morning when I return to the Mall by the Lincoln Memorial. It's quiet as dawn now. The only signs of life are runners in knee braces and families of adolescent ducklings clustered along the edge of the long Reflecting Pool.

There are few reminders of the event that brought a quarter-million folks to this site Saturday to pay the rare currency of attention to America's children. The only leftovers are some food wrappers and rows of portable toilets waiting to be removed.

On the ground is one hand-painted yellow banner - "Stand for Children" - that bears the autographs of the kids who came to carry it. I lean over and read some of the names: Margaret McCarthy, Jonathan Ledbetter, Lauren Mosley. They, too, have come and gone. Gone back to school, back home, back to normal.

This place that has seen so many other marches, rallies, speeches and dreams seems to have absorbed this one, too. On this back-to-work morning, I wonder whether this rally for children will leave more than a temporary mark on the landscape.

Saturday went off as flawlessly as its intentions. It was less a march than an amble. It was less a rally than a revival meeting - complete with babies, strollers, picnics and testimonials. The closing sermon by Marian Wright Edelman, the organizer and the head of the Children's Defense Fund, was no less eloquent for being so familiar.

"Revival" was the operative word. The people I met seemed to be less passionate about an agenda for change than frustrated by the conscious national neglect of children.

The adult leaders of contingents wearing T-shirts that read "Girl Scouts" or "Head Start" or "YWCA" came looking for a restoration of personal energy as well as the country's interest. The parents and church groups came to be counted, wearing green heart-shaped stickers announcing: "I Stand For Children." But more than anything else, people came to get their hopes up.

Never mind what you read of squabbles between think tank members of right and left over the politics of the gathering. This was a bipartisan event - for the right reasons and the wrong. It was bipartisan because kids are not political party players; they are as a poster read, "everyone's future. …

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