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A New Kind of Patriotism
Scenes From the Occupation of Wall Street
by ELIZABETH HELPERN & HILLARY ATIYEH

I am a New York City resident, former counselor in the New York City public school system, and sometime political activist over the last 20 years.  I went down to Foley Square with close friend and photographer, Hillary Atiyeh, to participate in the Oct. 5 march with Occupy Wall Street and their many union partners. We stood in the middle of the square and were struck by something different about this crowd.

It is, no doubt, a movement fueled by the stamina and revolutionary spirit of youth. They are the stalwarts, living in Zuccotti Park (and now setting up similar camps across the country), shouldering the day-to-day burden, but when they put out the call they are joined in the thousands by an almost indescribable array of people. It seemed at least half of the marchers were age 35 and up…and I do mean up. There were grey haired ladies with walkers and canes marching alongside tattooed Teamsters.  Boomers aplenty. Teachers, nurses, auto workers.

The young may the backbone of this movement, but their supporters are, more and more, who we once saw as the backbone of  America -who are now being treated like greedy parasites on our economy. Together they are rejecting not only this characterization by the right, but the inaction and empty promises of the left.

Almost makes you feel patriotic.

Photography by Hillary Atiyeh.