Last week I emailed a friend from high school who one year ago had a mastectomy after a breast cancer diagnosis. I said – “We need to plan our spa trip celebration of your recovery and ‘all clear’.” She called me right away. “Actually, I know this is last minute, but I want to go to the DC Tea Party.” My husband gave me the thumbs up. She couldn’t believe it! She lives in Spokane, WA. On my flight a woman (mid 5o’s) with an American flag sat down next to me. A last minute trip planned from Florida to meet friends – five to a room in the hotel! I had the urge to stand up and ask just how many people on the flight were going to the Tea Party, but I didn’t. There was lots of red, white, and blue on the flight and on the way out many talked. One woman had us all laughing and agreeing and said – oh don’t get me started, I can’t be quiet! I knew it was going to be a great few days.
I met my friend on the 11th at the Capitol South metro station. She had just finished a Capitol tour and had a picture taken with a Congressman from her hometown (Indiana, where our parents live). We ate a snack at Bullfeathers and after a few minutes three tables were pushed together and we had four new friends. We bought T-Shirts from someone who came in with an armful. We visited the House office building and left a few pointed notes. We wished we had started earlier and visited more offices. Especially Joe Wilson! We didn’t think of that until later. We followed another less lost soul and finally found the hotel where we could make signs. There was a room with about ten round tables, posterboard, markers, and lots of smiling faces. People were looking over each other’s shoulders and laughing and agreeing. We each made a poster. Mine was especially home-made looking. My friend’s turned out better. We ate at the hotel, seated with strangers who welcomed us to their table. More new friends, one couple was from California, two sisters were from Wisconsin. We also met people from Michigan, Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Ohio, Indiana, and those are just the ones I remember. We headed for the Tea Party busses – to welcome them. We couldn’t hear a thing, but it was fun to just be there. Everyone was smiling and enjoying being among kindred spirits. We hopped the metro and immediately another 9/12er began a conversation. We talked all the way to the Hotel. We always said “See you tomorrow!” to our new friends with a laugh.
The next morning my friend, who doesn’t like crowds, was in no hurry to get going. We arrived at 10:30, after a quick metro ride full of Tea Partiers, and the march was already in full swing. We joined the flow. It was unbelievable!! We proudly held up our signs and were almost giddy as we realized how BIG the crowd was! My sign said “We want Common Cent$ not NonCent$”. My friend’s said “Congress get down on your knees and out of my wallet!”. I got some good pics and I will hopefully have a slideshow ready soon. The closest we could get was the back side of the reflecting pool. There were trees between us and the Capitol steps, so we couldn’t see a thing, but we could hear a little bit. My friend needed to sit, so I was glad I had brought folding chairs from home. Most people were standing. Singing the Star Spangled Banner together was worth the whole trip! I loved seeing the little old ladies in the Angry Mob T-shirts! The signs were so creative and pointed. No fear here. We were able to find our friend from Indiana. She was packed in like sardines at the front for 1 1/2 hrs. and couldn’t take it anymore. We walked back to 10th and Penn and enjoyed lunch at a little fast food spot. We then headed back to try to get closer. A very strong guy lifted my friend and I over a wall and up onto the Capitol lawn. That was too funny! His back was probably sore that night since he had obviously been doing that for some time. Anyway, we were on the lawn and we still couldn’t see the stage! We stayed until the end, gave our folding chairs to some volunteers (I was not about to lug them all the way home!) put our signs in a trash can and headed for the Metro. The park police were smiling when we passed them by. Apparently there were no arrests and people either found a trash can or took their trash home with them. Just a bunch of nice people! If you can swing it next year, you should try to go. I know I will.