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2017 Women’s March: A Personal Moment of Clarity

What a difference a year makes…

Every day out on the campaign trail I get asked about what made me decide to run for Congress. There are many variables that played significant roles but the defining moment came on January 21, 2017.

On that Saturday, I was living in Seattle and a lot of my female friends were getting together in Judkins Park to join the Women’s March from Pioneer Square to the Seattle Center. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t realize that this would become a pivotal moment for many Americans. The day before, we watched Donald J. Trump become our 45th President. You could sense the anxiety of America and the uneasiness of not knowing what the next four years would be like. It was the Women’s March that harnessed that energy and directed it forward.

In my personal life, I was still in mourning. This was less than a month after I gave the eulogy at my Grandma Fern’s funeral, arguably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

Reports were coming in that Judkins Park was so packed that people couldn’t get within blocks of there. So I decided to walk downtown and find my spot on a wall across from the central public library. Afterwards we found out that the organizers were anticipating 40,000-50,000 people but an estimated 100,000-140,000 showed up. As the first wave of people marched past us, the steadiness, the energy, and the passion continued. I saw friends, neighbors, and colleagues constantly stream past.

At about the two hour mark, we heard that the first marchers finally reached the end of the march, yet there was still a huge crowd of people waiting to start back in Judkins Park. I was waiting for a friend’s group to march with the rest of the way when I saw a father with his little girl, who looked to be around 4 or 5 years old. This exact moment hit me in a way I couldn’t have imagined—it was a turning point in my life. I found myself thinking about the special bond between this father and his daughter. This moment was larger than this little girl could probably comprehend, but her dad wanted to make sure she was part of it so that when she grows up she can say “I was there.”

It was also at this moment that I remembered an article that I read a couple of years ago. It said that life is not about the pursuit of happiness; it’s about the pursuit of meaningfulness. When I was thinking about the meaning of my life, I thought about some of the last words my grandmother told me: “You should move back to Iowa and take care of our farm.” It was in this moment of clarity that I realized the most meaningful thing in my life is my family and where I am from. I am defined by my Iowa roots. And it was standing there across from the Seattle downtown library while feeling the passion of the march that I decided that it’s time for me to move back home to Iowa. And it was time for me to fight.

That decision has snowballed into running for Congress in my beloved home district against one of the most controversial and ineffective members of Congress, Steve King. Tomorrow I’ll be joining the Women’s March in Des Moines to honor the one-year anniversary of that day. That passion and energy that I felt that day is still alive and burning in my heart. I know I am right where I need to be, doing exactly what I want to be doing.

Standing Tall for All,

JD. Scholten