Jolie Bain Pillsbury

When will she see the sun again?

Screen shot by Jolie Bain Pillsbury, April 8, 2024 of DC NEWS NOW April 7, 2024 segment: Rally for the Hostages.
Screen shot by Jolie Bain Pillsbury, April 8, 2024 of DC NEWS NOW April 7, 2024 segment: Rally for the Hostages.

It is a good showing on the mall. There are thousands of us gathered.  We march along the side of the reflecting pool. US and Israeli flags snap in the spring wind.  We, the marchers, move peacefully towards the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Many of us carry posters of the faces of the kidnapped, have necklaces around our necks with their names, wear shirts and caps with bright red letters: Bring them home!

We all shout in cadence: What do we want? All of them! When do we want it: Now! Bring them home! Alive, today! … Our call and response is led by a young woman with a bull horn. The chants rise and fall as we walk.

A man near me in the crowd, tries to ignite another chant. Victory! In Gaza!  I am one of the few voices that join him. The chant quickly dies out. He glances at me wryly, “I guess that didn’t work”. I nod, “At least you tried”. Today is not about achieving the defeat of Hamas. Today is about standing fast together, strong with the families of the hostages, demanding their release.

Today marks six months since October 7th, 184 days of horror and anguish for the 134 who still are held captive by Hamas. We pause our march to read out the names of all the hostages still held in Gaza. Bring them home!

To mark this horrible milestone gatherings are being held many in other cities: New York, Atlanta, Toronto, London, Brussels, Paris, Jerusalem. People like us, in their hundreds and thousands, demand the release of the hostages. We are all moved to gather and march by the desperate need to do something, anything that might somehow force Hamas to “let my people go”.

We reach the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Seated on the landing above us on are family members of some of those still held captive by Hamas in Gaza. We are here for them. For the mother who listened on the phone and heard her daughter being shot and captured by Hamas on October 7th. For the teenage siblings of two young lone soldiers, who have not heard from their brothers since October 7th. For the wife, released in November 2024, whose husband is still held all these months after in the terrible conditions that she herself experienced.

We are here for the TV news cameras behind us.  We want to make news; we want to somehow send a message that will make a difference. We fear that the fate of the hostages may not be newsworthy enough; that the “powers that be” will remain indifferent; that they will not be moved to use their power to free the hostages now.

Earlier, at the foot of the Washington Monument, the starting point of the march, a reporter from DC NEWS NOW, a local TV station was interviewing people in the crowd. He turned to me and asked if I would answer some questions about why I was here at the march.   I held up my necklace and said, “I am here for Carmel Gat. For all the hostages. Her brother, who I know, gave this to me in January. We were there together, months ago, at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv”.

The reporter asks me about Carmel Gat, how to spell her name, what she is like. “She is a beautiful young woman, and she loves yoga. She is dearly missed by her all friends and family. They hold yoga sessions in her honor”.  He asks me, “When will this end? I say, “When Hamas’s military capacity is destroyed in Gaza”.

I make the local TV news that night. A twenty-six second clip in a two-and-a-half-minute segment. In those brief seconds of my interview, you can see Carmel Gat’s beautiful face on my necklace, shining in the sun. I am overwhelmed with sorrow this morning. When will she see the sun again?

Photograph by Jolie Bain Pillsbury, DC National Mall, April 7, 2024.
About the Author
Jolie Bain Pillsbury, Ph D. Retired, residing in Arlington, Virginia. Public and private sector career focused on producing measurable results through the development of cross-sector collaborative leadership skills. Author of “The Theory of Aligned Contributions” and “Results Based Facilitation: Books 1 & 2.
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