January 21, 2017, Trump’s first day in office. I refuse to call him “President Trump” as I do not believe he represents not only my values but the values of the majority of the American people. I find myself thinking a lot about what it means to live in a free open country where people can freely speak their mind and make their own decisions.
During the run up to the election, the things that came out of Trump’s mouth troubled me to my core. I understand that a lot of Americans are frustrated with the state of the economy, especially in the heartland as people continue to lose employment and have a reduce livelihood. However, can we truly sit back and feel like we are in a free nation when the leader of the country spouts anti-sematic rhetoric, is proud to have the support of the KKK, degrades women and people with disabilities, and tries to take away the rights of women to make the decisions they see fit for their lives and their bodies?
Trump ran an election on fear mongering and racist tactics that I struggle with on multiple levels. This country was founded by immigrants and is made great by the immigrants within its boundaries. A leader who demeans races, religions, and people with disabilities is not only hurtful but extremely scary. I find it hard to answer my 10-year-old daughter’s questions about how a candidate for the presidency can lose when an overwhelming number of people supported her, but also how somebody who voices the things that Trump continues to spout is chosen to represent of the values of our country.
My wife and children—along with millions of others across the country—took part in the Women’s March to voice their concerns over the recent election process, and to stand up for the disabled, the oppressed, and women everywhere. This is not only a concern for America, but the world over. Countries from around the world took part in these marches within their own communities—showing not only their support but also their concern for the direction of the United States.
With all the negativity that is currently plaguing our great country, I recently found myself among people who have truly made this country the great place it is today. I don’t mean presidents, elected members of government, or your local representatives. I had the privilege of spending time with some of our country’s veterans who sacrificed for the privileges we have today. Oregon Adaptive Sports sponsors an annual event called Heroes at Sisters where we honor our disabled veterans from the Pacific Northwest by helping them and their families have a weekend on the snow learning, relearning, or experiencing snow skiing for the first time. What better way to honor these veterans than by helping them enjoy freedoms that we able bodied citizens take for granted.
One of the disabled veterans recently told me that being on the snow in the adaptive equipment is truly the only time that he feels free and no longer disabled. As we spend time together on the snow, we realize that politics be damned and we are all after the same thing—freedom, respect, dignity, and inclusion. I am honored to have spent the weekend with the true heroes of our country.