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Foot Soldiers

TW: blood, violent attacks, screams, etc

You can’t define America in one word

Because it is defined by a constant dichotomy:

A dream and a reality

Barbarity and benevolence

Gaudy idealism and a broken promise.

A deep, personal conflict between humanity and hypocrisy

A beast to some and a blessing to others.

Whoever she may be,

Her exceptionalism can only be found in the affirmation of her ideals

Through the struggle to make them real

The claim of liberty

Made by those who were denied it

It was the foot soldiers

The marchers

The freedom fighters

I think of March 7th, 1965

They called it Bloody Sunday

Edmund Pettus, a literal clash of ideals

One that shed blood

Women and children, on the ground


Tear gas,

Shattered bones,


But Bloody Sunday not only shed blood

It shed light

It helped to wake a nation

To shock its conscience

A catalyst

Because while the police were armed with batons

They were armed with a sacred faith

In Democracy

I recognize only one face

John Lewis

He was necessary to the movement,

But so were the others

The ones I can’t recognize

They were foot soldiers

America’s heroes are the ones we don’t know the names of

Those who lived a hidden life

But marched

And bled

And built

Those who believed

Who didn’t boast exceptionalism

But actually strove to achieve it

They called it a holy war*

One that’s perpetual

One that we have to keep fighting

We stand on their shoulders

We owe it to them

* John Lewis's memoir, Walking with the Wind: After staging a sit-in in 1960 and getting arrested, Lewis says that "with all these friends, these familiar faces piling out of those wagons, it felt like a crusade, as if we were prisoners in a holy war" (Lewis 101).

Editors: Chris F., Nadine R., Nicole O., Marie H.


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