A diagnosis and a school dance

April 22, 1986 was a Tuesday. I had just finished last period gym class and was in the locker room with my 7th grade gang of girlfriends deciding whose house to go to after school. This decision usually involved three factors: whose house followed the same walking route as wherever our gang of boyfriends was headed, whose house had the best snacks, and whose mom didn’t mind when her home was invaded by twelve giggling girls. (We did not travel light in those day.)

I, so often the ringleader, shook my head and said…

They believed their democracy would stand. And then it fell.

On June 29, 1973, army tanks rolled down the wide avenues of Santiago de Chile. It was a Monday morning, just after 9, and the streets and sidewalks of the capital city were full of people on their way to work and school. A rogue element of the military was attempting to overthrow the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende.

The coup was stopped within a couple of hours, when military leaders who remained loyal to the Constitution swooped in and put a quick end to it. But the attempt would have consequences, thanks largely to the critical information it revealed: Who supported the legitimate government and who didn’t, which members of the military would uphold their oath of political impartiality and which wouldn’t, and, most ominously, the exact location of the government’s weaknesses when faced with insurrection.

The leaders of the coup attempt took the information they gleaned and…


I have contemplated the death of my child.

I wrote this in December 2012, just days after the Sandy Hook massacre. It’s not an easy read, but when I came across it yesterday, I found it beautiful, in a devastating sort of way.

The background knowledge you need is that I’m the mother of a two-time cancer survivor. My second son Austin was diagnosed with a rare form of bilateral kidney cancer in 2007 when he was just ten months old and again at age 3.

So I have contemplated the death of my child.

My husband and I had…

Chile Protests for Dummies: Part two of a two-part series

Again, as I said in Part One: I’m not calling any of you dummies. If you need the basic background of the uprising that has spread across Chile for the past ten weeks, read this first. Know that neither of these peices is an exhaustive look at every single aspect of the uprising, but it’s definitely a start. And here, Part Two, is where things really get interesting.

Why are people so angry anyway?

I covered some of this in Part One, but that was more about policies and this answer more about emotion. Because the people on the ground…

Chilean Protests for Dummies:
Part One of a Two-Part Series

Listen, I’m not calling any of you dummies. In fact, if you’re here, you’re likely pretty informed citizens. But there are a lot of conflicts going on across the globe and they’re not all covered extensively — or accurately — by the traditional media. I happen to have some working knowledge of Chile and how its political and social history has led to this moment in time, so consider this a brief (though long enough to be split into two parts) overview of what’s happening there.

I wish someone would…

“It’s now or never.”

That’s how 28-year old Santiago resident Josefina Cardenas describes the current opportunity Chileans have to change their country.

Cardenas is no stranger to political conflict, having begun protesting at age 14 when she and her high school classmates were involved in several unsuccessful attempts to address the poor quality of state-sponsored education.

But she is hopeful and energized by the current uprising, of which she is an eager participant. Protests broke out across Chile in mid-October following a proposed hike to the rush hour metro fare. …

Krissy Dietrich Gallagher

Freelance journalist: history/politics (Chile), mothering (childhood cancer), & public education. Author of forthcoming nonfiction Under A Broken Sky

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