Before I get to the actual point of this post I want to bring something to your attention that makes me irate. Here is a quote from a FOX News article (this was also reported by ABC):
The White House on Friday claimed it was unaware of the planned rally.
“I don’t know who the group is,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters with a shrug.
This response from Mr. Gibbs can only mean one of two things: A) This administration is unfit to lead because they are completely oblivious to what is going on in the country, OR B) This administration is unfit to lead the country because they are lying through their teeth.
Frankly, I am going with C) BOTH. The nerve they have to feign ignorance of the event bothers me to no end, and only ramps up my efforts to see them booted in 2012.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program…
The narrative below is from my mother-in-law, Linda, who lives near DC and was able to attend yesterday’s march. She also sent many interesting pictures to us. I think these two that I’ve included best show the magnitude of this event.
Linda’s description of the event:
Today was the 9-12 March on DC. I have to say that it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life! There were reportedly up to 1 million people there and I cannot tell you how exhilarating it was to be surrounded by so many patriotic Americans. There were more than 450 busloads from all over the country. I spoke to people from Hawaii to Alaska, from Texas to Georgia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, California – all of whom had traveled at their own expense and great personal sacrifice to be there today.
I have traveled to DC many times during the peak of rush hour and for special events like the the 4th of July, where millions have gathered, but never have I seen traffic like today. After waiting at the Metro platform while several trains passed that were packed to the brim, we finally had to ride the Metro out from the city to the end of the line, just to get on and travel back in.
Tears came to my eyes as we stepped off the Metro and rounded the corner. We thought we had a 6 block walk to get to the events, but the crowd was so huge that it filled the streets to overflowing all the way back to where we were. And we watched as the crowds kept coming and kept coming. From every direction, by bus, on foot, by 50′s by the 100′s- shoulder to shoulder pressing towards Freedom Plaza.
When we finally got down to Pennsylvania avenue to join the river of people already there, it took my breath away. As far as the eye could see in every direction there were flags, people, signs, moms and dads, old and young, cowboys from Texas, people wearing leis from Hawaii. The feeling was over whelming as we sang God Bless America and shouted FREEDOM! Just like the wave in a football stadium, cries would start at the back of the March and move forward the 6-8 blocks through the crowd, growing in intensity and echoing off of the tall buildings.
When we finally arrived at the Capitol, the view from a flag pole revealed an ocean of humanity, flags, and signs with the majestic white marble buildings all around us. The feeling of patriotism was palpable. We listened to several great speakers, cheering in all the right places. You haven’t heard cheering until you’ve heard a million patriotic Americans pledge their lives and sacred honor to the defense of their constitution.
There were hundreds of different T-shirts – 912 groups, tea party groups, freedom works groups from all over the country. The signs were some of the best I’ve seen. My favorite – Take Pelosis’s plane away – she can use her broom!
Despite the huge crowds, everyone was polite, considerate, and genuinely nice. There was no trash whatsoever (in sharp contrast to the filth and destruction left behind by the crowds on inauguration day)
This day will go down in American history as the day the American people woke up.
If this first account tickled your fancy, you may be interested to read this more detailed one from someone who was also in Linda’s party:
(click the ‘read more’ button to see the rest of the post)
What a fantastic opportunity was afforded to me, my son, and my friends yesterday as we took part in the great march for freedom on the National Mall. I’ll always remember it as a day of camaraderie, positive energy, patriotic pride, and also as a day when things that I normally find frustrating and annoying (such as Metro, going and coming) really didn’t bother me at all.
The cast of characters for this narrative are me (Jeannie), my son Steele, and our friends Linda, Josie, Sheila, Laurel, and Jessica. Our ages and experience range from high-school freshman to Senior citizen and everything in between.
Steele and I got up early Saturday morning, cleaned out the car, gathered up our supplies for the day, and headed out to the driveway where we met up with everyone but Laurel. Linda had made some fantastic signs for us to carry, and we had a good supply of “Don’t Tread on Me” and American flags with us too. After packing up the car, Sheila offered a prayer of gratitude and petition for safety for us and all those who would be participating in this great event. Then we climbed into the car and headed over to the Dunn Loring Metro stop, picking up Laurel along the way.
Our metro experience was not typical. Wisdom has taught me that it’s easier to get a parking place at the second stop on the line instead of the first. Dunn Loring is the second stop on the Orange line heading into the city, and we did get a really great parking spot. But conventional wisdom was lacking on Saturday. Full parking lots mean full trains. The first train to come along was already packed. This was our first indication that things were going well! But in an effort to ensure that all seven of us got on without leaving anyone behind, I hesitated just a little too long and the doors closed. It was only as the train was pulling out that Steele noticed Linda waving at the rest of us from inside the train!
So there were the other six of us, standing on the platform waving goodbye to Linda. We did manage to hook up on our cell phones before her train went underground and agreed to meet at the Ronald Reagan building, just upstairs from the Federal Triangle stop. Linda reported that every platform at every stop along the way was brimming with people. There wasn’t enough room on her train for anyone else to get on. Here was our second indication of the masses of people making their way to the march. In the meantime, we hatched a plan to get on a train going the opposite direction and switch to a downtown-bound train at the beginning of the line – one stop down. This worked out very, very well.
Our downtown-bound train was full of patriots from Canton, Ohio. Just that one town had brought seven busloads of people of all ages and backgrounds including among hundreds a mom and her twelve-year-old son, an accountant specializing in tax advice (no, he doesn’t work for Acorn), and a biker dude. They had traveled all night, had breakfast at a restaurant not far from the Metro, and planned to head back in the evening after the event was over. Everyone was so friendly and excited and determined that we are going to get our country back.
As we sped along Interstate 66 before going underground, some of us put our protest signs up in the windows of the train. As several downtown-bound bus loads of fellow protesters passed by, the people on the busses waved to us and we waved back to them. What a fantastic display of solidarity.
Meanwhile, Linda arrived at her destination and called us from downtown. I have never heard her so excited – ever. She’s usually very calm and reserved, but in this case she was exclaiming passionately that there were thousands of people in the streets, like nothing she’d ever seen before. We quickly passed that information around the train. Laurel spoke to her husband who was watching CNN, and he reported that CNN was estimating 2 million protesters. Wow! That got spread around as well. The excitement that moved through the train was palpable with all of us anxious to get there and be a part of it all.
When we finally got off the metro and met up with Linda, the crowd down on Pennsylvania Avenue was a sea of bustling humanity with people joining the throng from the side streets in droves. People just kept on coming; group after group after group. We taped the posts to our signs, took a deep breath, and stepped into the fray.
The sights and sounds of this great march included more than just wonderfully clever signs and the occasional shoutouts of “USA!” A large group of us in our general vicinity sang a rousing chorus of God Bless America. And a phenomenon I won’t soon forget was a series of great cheering uproars that started well behind us and moved their way up through the entire length of the march in massive waves. I had never before heard or participated in anything like this. Imagine multiple football-stadium crowds covering every inch of a massive thoroughfare “waving” for block after block after block. I can only describe it as absolutely exhilarating.
People were dressed in a variety of patriotic themes: red, white, and blue; colonial garb; covered in flags; fancy hats; home-made t-shirts with amusing anecdotes. “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s ‘free’!” The buildings lining Pennsylvania Avenue had spectators hanging over the rooftops. As we passed the new Newseum building, I was particularly impressed with the sight of the full text of the First Amendment of the Constitution literally hanging on the front of the building, big and bold, underscoring our rights to do exactly what we were doing at that very moment – to freely speak, and to peaceably assemble.
Farther on up the street we caught up with a “float” modeled after one of the original boats at Boston Tea Party. The people on that boat float were playing music and delivering encouraging words to the crowd. People from the street were handing their cameras up to the people on the float who were taking pictures of the march for them from higher up. Linda got a kind-hearted float rider to take a picture with her camera too.
In another crowd, I might have advised Linda not to do that; you never know when someone will make off with your camera. But this crowd was different. There was an air of trust amongst us knowing that everyone on that street was there in the name of what is good and right. All of the cameras that were handed up were handed back down with a smile.
A bit father along, there was a man selling hot loaves of twisted bread from the middle of the street. I yelled out, “Let’s hear it for capitalism!” and was met with cheers and laughter. It was a great day for capitalism in our nation’s capitol.
When we reached the end of the route, we followed the crowd onto the lawn in front of the Capitol building, but still quite a ways back. That was when we first got separated. Linda and Sheila had disappeared. It wasn’t the first time that day that I was grateful for cell phone technology! After traipsing around for a while, we finally spotted each other and met under one of the lampposts that surround the pathway that encircles the Capitol’s reflecting pool. Linda found the lamp post first and guided us there by describing the outfit of the man who was standing on a fence post taking pictures with other people’s cameras. Linda got another picture from him.
As the crowd settled in, we all had a little snack and sat down to await the start of the official program and to take in all of the sights and sounds around us. Everywhere you looked were smiling, enthusiastic faces, people helping each other, and excited conversation. We were also all tripping over each other and bumping into everyone, but nary a cross word was uttered. Politeness, understanding, and forgiveness ruled the day.
Eventually, Laurel and Jessica had to head back to the Metro so they could be home in time for other commitments. As they said goodbye, Linda and I headed off to find the port-a-potties leaving Steele to ensure Sheila and Josie were comfortable during our absence.
It can be hard to get your bearings in such a large crowd, and I realize now that I was confused throughout the day as to where we were geographically, which made finding the port-a-potties a bit of a trick. We followed a policeman on a bike through the crowd. He was looking for a diabetic who needed medical attention. At the end of the walkway, we looked right and found at least 20 port-a-potties lined up on the other side of the street. The lines were horrendous but we found one that looked good and got in. Even the port-a-potty crowd was polite and well-behaved. People were conversing amiably with each other as we worked through the line. Some of the port-a-potties had amusing signs on them, like “A.C.O.R.N Field Office.” Linda and I took a good look around from that perspective and decided that we should probably relocate the group to a spot closer to the action. We called Steele and agreed with him, Josie and Sheila that they would start moving and that Linda and I would find a spot farther up and then call to guide them to it.
Here, I’ve got to hand it to Steele. We left this kid with two women both much older than himself whom he barely knows – just met Josie that morning – and tasked him with guiding them through a massive crowd to meet up with us in a yet-to-be-disclosed location. Not one complaint. Not one.
The crowd was so thick that it took a great deal of time and patience for Linda and me to get to a desirable location. During that time, the festivities on the stage had begun, and we paused for the National Anthem. As the first few speakers took their turns at the microphone, we managed to find a nice spot on the curb in front of the Civil War statue.
We called back to Steele, Sheila, and Josie who reported that they had made their way towards the Capitol and had found themselves at a standstill, unable to move any farther forward. Because it very hard to hear anything that was being said over the phone we weren’t able to get their exact location. But Linda and I decided we needed to find them, so with very little information, we abandoned our good spot and embarked on a search that took us around the reflecting pool, back to the location where we had all settled originally, and after several more nearly unintelligible phone calls, to the new location of our comrades. They were situated right behind a police barricade a mere 50 yards from our spot under the statue. A row of large trees had hidden us from each other. Talk about going around the block to get next door!
Once again we settled in, now able to see the stage and the large screens in front of it and to hear the speakers much more clearly. For some time, I stood next to a man whom you might think by looking at him was once a member of the Grateful Dead. He was wearing an old orange t-shirt and jeans, sported long, gray, thinning hair, and was holding a home-made cardboard sign that read “Government Health Care Makes Me Sick” on one side and “Democrats Make Me Even Sicker” on the other. He also wore a big smile on his face, and cheered and booed on cue right along with the rest of us.
I wish I had a list of the speakers we listened to, but I couldn’t find any such list on the Internet, and I can’t remember everyone’s names. But they all had encouraging words and great enthusiasm for the cause of freedom.
Perhaps the most unorthodox “speaker” was conservative rapper Hi Caliber. I’m not into rap “music” and believe I can say with confidence that most of the conservative crowd isn’t. But the message was “right on” (she said, dating herself with 70s hip talk).
Mason Weaver, a black talk radio show host, got everyone laughing with his remark that he, “thought you would want to hear a black man speak to you without a teleprompter.” A very motivational speech: We have had enough! We want our freedoms back!
Jim DeMint was welcomed with a great uproar of support being one of the very few Senators who really gets it. In my quest to ensure 100% turnover in Congress, I might settle for slightly more than 99.5%; if Jim DeMint continues to deliver. We’ll see…
Deneen Borelli, a black conservative, spoke on a subject that is, by virtue of political correctness, taboo for most of us pasty white folks. She said emphatically, “I’m outraged [that] prominent black politicians use the race card.” Right on, Deneen!
The most emotional moment for me was during a speech by a man who reminded us of those brave men and women who fought and died for this country that we might be free. We cannot throw it away. We must also fight for freedom that their ultimate sacrifice was not in vain.
As the speeches continued, it became necessary for an ambulance to enter the crowded area. The police took down some pieces of the barricade and began to move people back to create a pathway for the ambulance to enter. All of this was done calmly with great cooperation from the crowd. When the ambulance had passed through, everyone moved back and the barricade was once again placed in its appropriate position. Everyone cooperated. Nobody argued. Nobody “ran for it” when the barricade was down. Angry mob? I don’t think so.
We stayed listening to speeches until about 3:20, and then decided to pack it up and head home. But even the trip home contributed to the overall buoyant feel of the day. As we walked back down Pennsylvania Avenue, we chatted with others who had come from near and far just to be there for this historical event. And even though it took FOREVER to get back to the Dunn Loring station, it was OK. We were among friends.
At about 6:15, as we finally arrived at my house to disperse and go back to our everyday lives, we were all definitely physically if not also emotionally exhausted. It was a great day no matter how you look at it. We had participated in a little bit of history. We now reveled in the sure knowledge that we’re not alone. We came home more hopeful, more determined, and more patriotic than ever.
As a final note, I’d like to share this thought. One day many months ago, I was doing a little soul-searching. My mom had been hinting for quite a while that my family and I should move from Fairfax down to Fredericksburg to be closer to them. Fairfax is expensive and our jobs don’t tie us to it. As I pondered this, I offered a little impromptu prayer – why should I stay in Fairfax? The answer came immediately and emphatically: “So you can be close enough to Washington to make your voice heard.” I think my voice and the voices of us all have been heard.
“Can you hear us now?” :)