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Constance Alexander: Vigils attract mourners of all ages, nationwide, determined to prevail


But for the whisper of new moon and random dots of starlight, the night sky was soft as a bolt of black satin on Saturday night. All over America, people congregated at courthouses to honor Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In Murray, about forty people met in front of the Calloway County Judicial Building to celebrate the life and mourn the death of Justice Ginsburg.

Her passing, of course, was no surprise. Many bouts of ill health had been well-documented over the years, but her grit and commitment kept her on the job, inspiring admirers of all ages. Even President Trump, upon hearing the news, described her as “an amazing woman who led an amazing life,” in spite of an ill-advised comment she made in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, when she referred to him as “a faker.”

Realizing the lack of decorum, the justice issued a statement in which she owned up to her mistake and apologized, behavior seldom seen in Washington D.C.

Mourners gathered for a vigil outside Calloway County Judicial Center celebrating the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Photo by Christine Lindner)

Among the mourners in Murray, there were no apologists. Organizers of the vigil, from the West Kentucky Chapter of NOW, recognized the urgency of marking the occasion. Since there was a national call through social media to gather in the name of Justice Ginsburg, Catie Bates, Debi Henry Danielson, Happy Chambers, and Jessica Jones Paine mobilized their forces to set up the Saturday night gathering on the plaza in front of the Calloway County Judicial Building.

Hilary Harris brought her two children, Ella and Abby, to the vigil.

“We came to pay our respects to Justice Ginsburg,” Hilary said. “She did a lot of good things we take for granted.”

When 9-year-old Abby Harris was asked why she attended, she echoed her mother’s sentiments. “She did a lot of good things,” Abby declared.

Older sister Ella Harris, when asked what inspired her to participate, responded, “My mother.”

Doug Milliner, another Murray resident, described RBG as “amazing.” He went on to add, “She had a wonderful record of supporting equality.”

Wearing a lace-like collar fashioned from a doily (reflecting Justice Ginsburg’s familiar accessory), Kathy Stroud felt the need to be part of something bigger the night after Justice Ginsburg’s death. “I’m feeling very isolated,” she admitted.

Terry Strieter, candidate for re-election to Murray City Council, had more to say. “We’re here in memory of a woman who has made her mark on America and the Supreme Court,” he asserted. “She is a woman who deserves us paying attention to her demise, her work, and all she has accomplished.”

“She was a real fighter,” he added. “Physically she was a little person, but a giant intellect.”

As the congregants, all in masks, held lit candles and chatted quietly on the plaza in front of the Judicial Building, a few vehicles slowed down to jeer and shout, cheering the possibility that abortion would become a crime again with a new appointee to the Supreme Court.

Ignoring them, the crowd joined in to listen to some of Justice Ginsburg’s memorable quotes, including her response to a question, “When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?”

The answer: “When there are nine,” with the additional reminder that nobody ever raised a question when there were nine men on the court.

Constance Alexander is a columnist, award-winning poet and playwright, and President of INTEXCommunications in Murray. She can be reached at constancealexander@twc.com. Or visit www.constancealexander.com.

Before playing a flute solo to add an introspective vibe to the assembly, Liliana Ferrer urged everyone to place their hands over their hearts and to think about compassion, mindfulness, and justice. With urging by Melissa Easley, a chorus of “Amazing Grace,” demonstrated the philosophical harmony of the group.

“The Low Road,” by Marge Piercy, was a reminder that teamwork can make a difference. According to the poem, two people working together can help each other; three make up a committee; four can start an organization. As the numbers grow all the way up to a thousand, hundreds of thousands, to ten million, progress is measure incrementally:

“It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.”

The vigil ended with an imagined group hug, orchestrated by Debi Henry Danielson. After that, some of the people stayed to talk and to absorb the peaceful environment of lighted candles and luminaria. Some of the kids created chalk designs and inscriptions of RBG on the sidewalk. Candidate for State House District 5, Shannon Roberts, handed out flyers about a project directed at Senator Mitch McConnell’s regional offices, regarding the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

For an article on how Ruth Bader Ginsburg “made old age look cool,” visit www.politico.com.

For more information about the west Ky NOW chapter, go to www.westkynow.org.


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One Comment

  1. Anne Adams says:

    I always enjoy your thought-provoking articles. RIP RBG!

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