Monday, August 30, 2010

Restoring Honor Rally

I just now have internet access for the first time since the rally (story later), so I'm quick-posting the text I've worked up and I'll update this post later with a few refinements and pictures.

I got on the bus as one of the last people, and there was one seat for me in the back. I had planned to work with friend and former co-worker Doug, but we had to split up.

It worked out ok. I ended up sitting with a great family - Mom, Dad, a teenage girl and her older sister -- a nurse in KC, and their grandmother -- who as it turns out is Chris Loesch's aunt. Which is probably too obscure for most people out there, but he is Dana Loesch's husband. I think I've made some new friends.

It took 19 hours to get there -- about 4 more than we'd planned, as I was on one of 4 busses organized by our 9.12 group founder and we were picking a few people up along the way. We started to walk to the Metro Rail station 0.7 miles away and we were immediately assaulted by a barrage of street vendors, hawking shirts, buttons and American and Gadsden Flags. The only items that were appropriate for the rally would have been the American Flags. I didn't see anyone patronizing any of them as I walked by. I later saw one guy on the Mall getting a ticket, I assume for vending without a license.

We got to the metro station we were supposed to embark from ... and it was packed. Some people were telling us the Washington Monument was 4 miles east. A few people had gotten through to the Metro, but a lot of the rest of us decided to hoof it -- meaning we missed about the first hour of the rally.

But I didn't really care so much about that... I was there to be another face in the crowd. Sure I wanted to hear some of what was going on on stage, but I was there to be a part of it.

So we got to walk through some pretty neighborhoods, and right by the Supreme Court and the Capitol, down to the Washingon Monument. Along the way, there were people -- and you could usually tell who was headed to the rally by their clothing -- a lot of red, white, and blue or shirts identifying which group they were with... but it wasn't throngs.

A little bit west of the Washington Monument was the stage for Al Sharpton's event. There was a big banner of Martin Luther king and a couple of quotes from his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. They were playing the speech over loudspeakers. As I listened to the words, I turned to Chris and said "Listen to this. It's beautiful. And so different from the tone and rhetoric of Al Sharpton." But, we were already late, and we hustled on.

Along the way, we had run across a few people with statements to make. I snapped a shot of a guy on a street corner with a sign that read "Freedom without socialism is priviledge and injustice. Socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality." Never mind that Socialism with Freedom is impossible without the socialism being completely voluntary -- that is, private charity. I'm sure he thought he was being intellectual.

It's a mile from the Capitol to the Washington Monument, and a mile from the monument to the Lincoln Memorial. Some of us were starting to think maybe it would be a disappointing crowd. But when we popped over the hill at the Monument, those fears vanished. There were people from the monument to the Lincoln Memorial. Lots of people. Easily half a million.

We wanted to see how many people were in and beyond the trees and just how thick the crowd was, so Chris, Penny, and I along with a couple of others struck out for the north side of the reflection pond.

The back of the crowd near the monument was sparse. The closer you got to the WWII Memorial at the head of the reflecting pool the more packed it got. From the WWII Memorial to the stage, it was solid people, packed in.

We went by one group of what looked like some very young college students with a sign that said "Teabaggers Go Away!". Everybody was ignoring them, and they looked a little sheepish. They weren't getting the reaction they probably wanted. Another guy was mores subtle. He was trying to get reactions to use. His sign read "If you could tell pres. Obama 1 thing, what would it be?" I heard him talking with the people he was with and he repeated several times, "about 95% 'quit' and 5% 'thank you'". Well, no surprise there. If you are against the President's policies, you might just want him to quit. I can't remember which rabble rouser/counter-protester said it, but I overheard "Take my picture, I wanna be on a blog." I'm pretty sure it was that last one. I do have his picture. I may put it here after I post this.

The area between the pond and the sidewalk was full of standing people. Then the little hill in the trees to the north was full as well. There were still people streaming in from the Northwest making their way through a pretty decent crowd in those areas as well. There was a pretty decent crowd behind the stage on the steps of the Linconl memorial as well.

I didn't even get to the other side until the rally was over. We stayed on the North about 1/4 the way down the reflection pool and listened to the rally from there. I could occasionally see one of the screens, and my brain kept assuming that the stage was just out of sight to the west... but it was still 3/8 mile away.

Glenn Beck had about the last hour of the rally after some awards handed out by Sarah Palin and a talk from Alveda King and some singing mixed in.

Glenn's speech was very good. I'll have to go over it again ... I'm sure it's on YouTube, but I have an insider subscription and I'll probably get it there when I get a chance. In the latter half of it, he introduced the new Black Robe Brigade ... 240 preachers and ministers and priests on stage who agreed to basically emphasize personal responsibility and personal salvation from the pulpit. That latter half of the speech was more peppered with Religious Revival tones... which I have absolutely no problems with.

Chris, Penny, and the rest of our small grouplet headed afterward to the Lincoln Memorial. I actually got butterflies walking up the steps.  I mentioned this to Chris, and he said "yeah, me too."  It was packed, but we did get in. We only had an hour and a half before we were all supposed to meet at the Washington Monument to head back to the busses, so we didn't really have time to see much else. I saw both the Vietnam War Memorial and the Korean War Memorial off to the sides, but we'll have to go back some time when there aren't a half a million people wandering around. It was, as one might expect, a zoo. But an ordered, clean, and polite zoo.

Except for a few people. On our way out we ran across a guy with a large sign calling Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, and other various names and he was shouting at us on the way buy. The only complete thought I heard as we went by was "I would be proud to go to jail for slapping Glenn Beck's face". He was also shouting George Bush and idiot, but was having problems pronouncing the word "idiot". I WISH I had thought to take video, I would have slapped it on YouTube in an instant.  I hope SOMEBODY did.  We were in a bit of a hurry to catch our busses at the time.  I didn't see it, but there was another man tapping a club on his hand that we walked by. And later, a young lady from my bus said a man had shouted at her, calling her a "hate monger" and tried to spit on her. She said she responded, "*I'm* a hate monger? *You're* trying to spit on me!" and continued walking.

Before we struck out for the busses from the Washington Monument, columns of what I assume were Al Sharpton people went marching across the Mall crosswise.... making sure to cross the people leaving our rally, chanting, carrying signs, and I'm guessing trying to provoke a reaction from us.  Nobody was biting.  It was a bit odd, there'd be a group go across.... nothing for a long while, then another large group ... this happened 3 or 4 times over the course of an hour or so.  I was starting to wonder if it wasn't the same group marching across multiple times.

Without any prompting from me, my young friend on the bus (who avoided the spit mentioned above) told me that she was watching them.  They would march across, hurry around the other side, switch signs, and march again.  I thought I heard them chanting something about "Glenn Beck", but she said they were chanting "Fired Up!  Ready to Go" over and over.    Anyway, interesting, I thought.

I'll finish this post up later with pictures. My wife had car trouble coming down to pick me up in Indy, and we had to stay in a motel in Anderson overnight. We're currently waiting for the alternator to be replaced. I may not have much of a chance to say much else until Wednesday night. I have pictures and some other people's pictures and maybe some more details to work in.

Car's fixed ($639 plus a towing fee and a hotel room later), and happily we're now in Fort Wayne packing my mother-in-law up to move down closer to us. All in all, that fiasco could have gone worse.  Things fell together pretty well considering our situation.   Me on a bus an hour away from Indy where my wife was to pick me up, her in a car 35 miles from that pickup spot with a dead car and no husband there to help and on the fringe of cell phone range.    Nurse Kelly looked up towing services in Anderson, IN for me, I picked one based on some reviews (Northwest Towing), and called and sent one to pick her up.  They dropped the car off at Southwest Garage with a note and keys in the drop box, then dropped her off at a motel, where she got a room.   A man from one of the other busses being dropped off in Indy as well took me, a complete stranger, up to the motel, and we were on the road by 1:00 this afternoon.

I will have to come up with another post to talk more about what I took from my experience ... this post was mostly to spew my "diary" of basically what I saw before I forgot. It's a busy week for me.

One last note.  Does the black man above look afraid of all the white people around him?  Do the white people around him look afraid of him? The crowd indeed was overwhelmingly white.  But there was nobody at the gate, indeed, there were no gates .... turning anyone away because they weren't "white".  This rally was free and open to anyone.  Now.... look at the signs being carried by the protestors in the picture on the right.  Just sayin'.   There were Blacks and Asians and his Hispanics interspersed all over the crowd.  They were a part of the crowd.  Skin color does not matter.  Ideals matter.  Principles matter.  Honor matters.


Mart said...

I just got your blog of the event today and enjoyed reading your take. My hubby and i also attending this same rallly. We were on Bus 2. Very interesting as you said watching and being part of such a large crowd. I could not get over how polite eveyone was. We started out on the left side and worked our way over to the WWII memorial and it was packed with people. We would cross over to get to the site and people seemed to understand and not mind that we were in their way. Praise God Glenn and Chris and Penny for this event. My hubby and I feel like we have hope and have been restored. We must not give up and keep our focus on God and what he wants for this country. mart Staggs, 9-12 We the People of Monroe County Mo

tim said...

Nice roundup, philmon.

Sounds a lot like my experience from last 9/12.

Thanks for sharing.