This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. and participate in the 9/12 Tax Payer March/Rally on Capitol Hill. It was an incredibly moving experience for me, and I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences.
The mainstream media has given this event very limited coverage. The few reports I have seen were sparse and negatively focused on how “angry” the crowd was. I don’t think anything could be further from the truth. The reports I have seen also seem to greatly underestimate the size of the crowd. I have been to a number of professional sporting events where tens of thousands of people were in attendance. None of them can compare to the large number of individuals that were there on Saturday. Capitol police were saying that based on the number of people brought in by buses, planes and trains, that the crowd was estimated to be 1.5 million. They also remarked that the estimate didn’t include individuals and families that drove their own vehicles into the city. None of the reports I have seen even remotely speak to the emotion of the crowd or tone of the event.
Let me begin by saying what a privilege it was to stand shoulder to shoulder with so many great, patriotic, main stream Americans. Never in my life have I been in such a large gathering of quality individuals. It was very exciting and humbling at the same time. Before heading to D.C., I was a little bit nervous about being in such a large crowd. As we all know, large crowds can influence people to do some really stupid things. I knew the crowd was going to be big, and wondered if I wanted to put myself in the middle of a potentially dangerous situation. My fears were quickly put to rest the minute I got on the plane early Saturday morning in Atlanta to head up to D.C. Everyone was extremely friendly and I could feel a great sense of unity among the crowd. Most of the folks on the plane were there for the same reason I was. We love America and are tired of our government …. Republicans and Democrats … running OUR country into the ground. Some were traveling in groups with matching t-shirts. Some were couples and families. Some were individuals who just felt it was important to make the sacrifice to show up and be counted among many who have had enough. I met one woman from Washington who had traveled all night to be able to be there for the rally. She came alone, but figured she would just make friends along the way.
I flew into National Airport and boarded the Metro train to head to my downtown hotel . As I got on the train people were having a good time and excited to attend the rally. Once again, I felt a great sense of comradery with total strangers. People were sharing where they were from, why they came and just having a good time together. With each stop the train made, more people crammed into the train and we were packed in like tight sardines. No one seemed to mind. People weren’t displaying anger, but loyal patriotism. No one seemed like a stranger.
I got off the train at McPherson Square and walked a few blocks to check into my hotel. I was meeting there with an old friend and former college roommate. As I walked north on 14th Street, many were passing me on their way to Freedom Plaza and Pennsylvania Avenue. Many were dressed in patriotic colors and many were carrying signs displaying messages they wanted to have heard.
I met up with my friend Stefany, dropped my luggage in my room and then we headed out for the rally. We arrived at Freedom Plaza around 10 am. Again, I felt immediately comfortable with the crowd and I could tell we were in for a great day. Pennsylvania Avenue was already full of people and much of the new crowd was being directed towards the Capitol along the side streets. I was impressed by both the number of people and their obvious sacrifices to be there. Only in America could such a large crowd gather peaceably to make a political statement. There were no bricks. No granades. No torches. No guns. There were only ordinary, everyday Americans. I have to admit, I did see some pushing going on. I saw elderly folks being pushed by their loved ones in wheel cheers. I saw a number of young parents who were brave enough to bring their families, pushing their small infants and toddlers in strollers. I was very touched by the sight of these people as I know it was not physically easy for them to be there. But they showed up and their voice was heard. I saw one gentleman walking on crutches and sporting a cast up to his knee. I’m sure his day was less than comfortable.
Stefany and I went up side streets part of the way and then blended into the crowd further up Pennsylvania Avenue. We were able to move our way up through the crowd and spent a couple of hours towards the front of the crowd. We then decided to wander around the crowd to gain a sense of the numbers and see what was going on in various locations. We kept commenting to each other how great the crowd was. People were being patient with each other, they were picking up their trash, etc. The crowd starting dispersing about 4-5 pm. It was a great day and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to be a part of the event.
After arriving back at the hotel that evening we immediately turned on the news to see how the event was being covered. The media did cover this event right?! After all, this was most likely the largest protest ever in our nation’s capitol. That is news worthy isn’t it? It seemed that the bigger news of the evening was a call for Joe Wilson to apologize AGAIN for his “You lie” outburst during last week’s joint session of Congress. While I concede that Joe didn’t make the best choice, isn’t it about time we recognize that an apology was made and move on? Unbelievable.
We are at a turning point in our country. It is no longer about being a Republican or a Democrat, right or left. It is about saving our freedom and preserving our national security. The path we are on as a nation is not good. One of the thoughts that kept continually coming to me over the weekend was a question in my mind …. “What is the power of one?” I know many think (myself included) that our small efforts are unlikely to make a difference. That is faulty thinking. I know that even though the media isn’t covering it, the impact on Washington was great this weekend because of the combined small efforts of ordinary individuals.
Please check out the pictures I’ve uploaded to my page, but know that they don’t do justice in conveying the great comradery and emotion of the event. I am working on setting up a blog where I will have a better forum than facebook to spew politically. I’ll post a link once it is up and operating. God Bless America!