What better way to spend a warm muggy Washington DC day than strolling among your fellow and sister Americans celebrating the rebirth of an honorable nation. Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally in Washington, DC on Saturday was a strikingly memorable event. The backdrop of the Lincoln Memorial and the expansive sea of people pouring over the grounds bordering the Reflecting Pool and over onto the lawns of the Washington Monument presented a spectacular sight to savor. This was the first major Tea Party event that I had attended and it was a phenomenal occasion.
When we arrived at the Memorial, the event was already underway. A group of us Tea Party enthusiasts had decided to take Amtrak from Philadelphia to Washington DC, expecting to arrive a little after 10 AM. But always true to form, Amtrak treated its mostly patient passengers to an hour plus delay. The majority of the passengers on the train, which was sold out, were on their way to the Beck rally. However, there was at least one fellow traveler who was headed to the Al Sharpton get-together. An African-American gentleman who had his son in tow, a boy of about 4 or 5 years old, was carrying a protest sign that read: Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are Racists. Needless to say, one could assume, since we were all going to DC to take part in an event where these two outrageous ‘racists’ were featured personalities, that we too were getting tarred with the same semantic brush. But hey, this is America, so we all politely chatted and smiled and waited for Amtrak to get its act together. Another victory for civility. Finally, we rolled into Union Station at about 11:15 AM. Everyone hopped into the waiting taxis for the short ride to the Lincoln Memorial, hoping they hadn’t missed the one person that so many of us were eager to hear and perhaps catch a glimpse of.
Unfortunately, we arrived too late to hear Sarah Palin’s speech, but we were in time to hear Alveda King, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s niece and other speakers. It was impossible to see the stage or anyone on it–we just couldn’t get through the hundreds of thousands of folks who had camped out with coolers and kids for a day of patriotism and a little fun. What really struck me about the turnout was the intergenerational composition of the crowd. It was like one colossal backyard family gathering. Lots of young and middle-aged parents with toddlers and teenagers. Lots of family tee shirts proclaiming love for our country and respect for our troops. The crowds were predominately European Americans but Asian Americans and African-Americans were also to be seen and many were wearing Restoring Honor tee shirts.
Walking around the periphery of the Lincoln Memorial crowds, we discovered a small counter-demonstration taking place at 23rd and Constitution. There were about 30 to 40 people, all white, involved in this protest, most were standing side-by-side holding placards proclaiming the advent of the socialist revolution. Behind this Maginot line of marginalized marionettes, was a young woman clasping a loud-speaker that was precariously perched on her head, and next to her, a young man with a microphone in hand haranguing the passers-by. Decrying the delusions of the Tea Party grassroots groundswell, this budding young Lenin lectured the misguided masses, demanding that we repent of our anti-socialism sins and embrace the one true faith of the Marxist motherland.
As we paused to take in this bit of political pageantry, a woman who seemed to be part of a vacationing family group, attempted to take a photo of the manly speaker and his humble female factotum. But when this DC tourist pointed her camera at the dedicated duo, one of the members of the Maginot line jumped in front of her, pushing his placard at her camera lens. The woman, a little taken aback, shifted position and attempted to once again take the photo. But this in-your-face male Marxist, Champion of the People, pushed his sign at her camera yet again. When the woman’s husband and her two teenage sons walked over to see what was going on, Mr. Marxist very quickly moved back to the Maginot line and Mom was then free to take her photo. What this aggressive ‘activist’ punk was thinking and why he felt compelled to harass this very ordinary woman, one can only surmise. But this sad and silly scenario spoke more loudly than the loudspeaker lout hawking his Left-wing lexicon. I think the Socialist/Marxist movement could use some timely instruction on how NOT to look like a bunch of elitist male chauvinist thugs.
At the end of the day, our group headed back to Union Station. And what a sight awaited us! The station was absolutely mobbed with Restoring Honor rallyers. Tea Party patriots carrying American flags and Gadsden flags. Women, men, and children wearing patriotic tee shirts. Lots of supporters who came incognito clothing-wise, chatting to strangers, smiling and nodding at each other in mutual recognition. We jammed the restaurants, we poured through the Mall, we packed the platforms. And of course, all the vendors hawking their Tea Party paraphernalia and making a small fortune the good old American way.
It was a great day. It was an empowering day. It was our day. I can’t wait for November.