It seems like such a strange statement to use to describe a defining moment in your life, and yet for me, that’s exactly what it is.
My initial reaction to the honor of carrying a box of recall petitions into the Government Accountability Board on January 17th was pure excitement. I couldn’t wait to turn in the signatures we had all worked so hard to collect.
That feeling of exhilaration continued throughout that evening as we celebrated the victory of over 1 million signatures collected. We laughed as we hugged and congratulated each other on a job well done.
But now that the parties are over, I find myself quite reflective as my thoughts keep wandering to the experience of carrying that box.
I think about walking down that corridor of people who were holding hands with each other so our path to the GAB was clear of obstacles. As I walked down that path, I caught glimpses of the faces of people I had met in the last 11 months of my life. I had never met them before February 11th, but I was now connected to them for the rest of my life. They yelled “Thank YOU” as I passed by, but all I kept thinking was “Thank YOU for helping me find my way.”
I think about the people whose signatures I carried into the GAB. Even though I don’t know their names, or their stories, I feel connected to them forever. I carried their hopes, their dreams, their struggles, and their fears. What will happen to them after these boxes are opened, and their signatures are counted? What will it take to get their lives back on track and what else can I do to help make that happen?
I think about the sacrifices that were made to collect the signatures I carried. How many broken friendships and severed family ties are inside? And what did the volunteers have to give up in order to successfully circulate each of these petitions?
When I was first selected for this task, I thought I was just carrying a box. Now I know I was carrying the future of a state currently entrenched in its own cold war. I was told the box would be heavy. Little did I know how heavy it would really be.
I carried a box.
Class of 2012
Tanya Lohr is a teacher and union member. She is also a member of the Emerge Wisconsin Class of 2012. She was first introduced to Emerge while she was in the midst of organizing the efforts to recall Republican Senator Glenn Grothman.