I'd thought about going to 8/28 for awhile, but nixed it because of the cost. Eventually, I decided to go for it anyway.
I didn't tell my parents until about a week before because they freak out while driving me to the airport in a larger city. I couldn't imagine how they'd react to the idea of me going to Washington D.C. by myself. To their credit, they freaked out a lot less than I thought they would. They weren't applauding the idea, but they stood back and let me handle everything. Not like they could have stopped me anyway. ;)
I headed out late Friday afternoon. I got into D.C. at around midnight. I'd planned it that way so I wouldn't have to bother with a hotel. I just spent the night at the airport. Only got about an hour of fitful sleep, but I didn't care. The rest of the time I wandered around, getting to know the place. I could see the Capitol Dome from the windows of the airport, and that had me all excited. I wished I could head out to the rally at that moment, but alas, I had to wait for sunrise.
By studying maps on the Internet, I knew that I could walk straight from the Reagan airport to the Lincoln Memorial via the Mount Vernon Trail. About a three mile hike. I had planned on walking to and from rather than pay for a cab or something, but the sun didn't rise early enough. After it was up enough to see sufficiently, there was only about thirty minutes until the Metro opened up, so I decided to take it instead. A three-mile hike, I estimated, would take me about 50 minutes at a leisurely pace, so it would be faster to take the Metro. I would hike back if need be.
The Metro was an experience. It was so funny because most of us going to 8/28 were from out of state and from rural areas or at least areas without large-scale public transit. We all stood around trying to figure out how this "Metro" thing works. One guy had gone out exploring the day before and we all crowded around him as he explained how to get a fare ticket, where we should get out, etc... Some looked positively mystified as he tried to explain the "yellow line" and the "blue line." I'd picked up a metro map at the airport, so I already had that part figured out.
Following the crowd (aka, people in flag shirts) seemed like a good option. Got me there just fine. When I got back home and told people, everybody asked, "What's a Metro?"
A couple of airport workers rode as well, albeit to a different destination. When it came rumbling into the airport, it was already packed. The airport workers were like, "Holy cow!" Anyway, we all got there in one piece, thankfully.
I walked past who knows how many museums on my way to the rally. Someday I'll have to actually spend a few days in D.C. and explore them. The coolest part of the day for me happened while I was walking toward the Washington Monument. I'd had my eye on it, well, because' it's really tall. Kinda hard to miss it. The Al Sharpton thing was set up near it, although I didn't know that's what it was at the time. I just saw the Martin Luther King Jr. sign. Nothing else was really going on yet. So I was walking forward looking at all that, snapping pictures, and on a whim I turned around.
Right behind me was the Capitol Dome. I almost missed it. That was cool. Wasn't expecting it, and boom! there it was. Awesome.
I wanted to stick around and explore, but I also wanted a halfway decent spot. I didn't come halfway across the country to end up stuck in the back row, so I kept going.
Finally got to the Washington Monument. At the entrance to the rally, a few people were there handing out literature. They weren't official, they were just capitalizing on the fact that a lot of people were there and took the opportunity to spread their message. It was mostly junk. I threw it away. Others took advantage of the crowds as well by selling "Don't Tread on Me" t-shirts and other patriotic stuff down at the rally itself. According to Hillbuzz, some were selling "Palin 2012" items, but they weren't in my area.
It's funny that Glenn talked about the flaws in the Monument because that's the first thing I noticed. I like the flaws. I like the flaws in our Founders. It encourages me. When I first started studying the actual Founders for myself in more detail rather than just the general patriotic aspect of it, I was struck by how imperfect they actually were. And their imperfections are what inspire me, for if God could use those flawed individuals, surely he can use us.
When I got to the top of the Washington Monument hill, I saw that the rally place already had tens of thousands of people, and it was only 7:30. The guys I ended up sitting next to had spent the night there.
Between the Washington Monument and the Reflection Pool is the WWII Memorial. I got some pics of that on my way. I had to get Wisconsin, of course. I also grabbed Minnesota because that's my Dad's home state and Alaska because of Palin.
Now came time to find a spot to settle down and wait for the rally to start. I was on the left side facing the stage set-up. Like everyone else, I followed the crowd to get as close to the Lincoln Memorial as possible. I noticed that as we were going up, just as many were coming back, so I knew that eventually it just got so packed that there was no room anymore. Many were filing off to the side where there were a few big screens set up so people could watch on the grass.
I got as close as I could before hitting the wall of people, and then I started picking my way around everyone to get to the fence by the reflection pool. By some miracle, I found an empty patch of dirt just big enough for me to plop down with my back up against the fence. Still had about two hours to go.
The whole event was pretty well organized. They had water stations where they were giving away free bottles of water because it was so hot. Near the end of the rally, a guy started walking around handing out water bottles. Thank goodness because I'd run out of the huge bottle that I'd brought, and I'm not sure I would have survived the trip back to the airport without water. They also had teams there to help if anyone got heat exhaustion or suffered some other emergency, and a "family reunification tent" people could go to if they got separated from their peeps.
I didn't see any of the protesters because that didn't happen anywhere near where I was. They didn't do anything to throw a monkey wrench in the event, that's for sure.
The mood was light, upbeat, and generally festive. Random pockets of chanting broke out here and there. "USA! USA! USA!"
People on the right side of the pool decided that we were waiting to watch a football game, or something. I kid you not, they started doing the wave.
Then two sides started yelling back and forth to each other something that I couldn't understand. Upon reviewing the tape, I think it's "Glenn" and "Beck," which would make sense:
Yep. It was hard to make out in real life for some reason. It sounded like both sides were yelling "Bleh." Hence my "oookay. Whatever that was."
It's what patriots do when they get bored.
Picking up on the "game" mood, a lady behind me got a bunch of the people around her to chant to the other side: "We got honor, yes we do! We got honor, how 'bout you?"
They must not have said it loud enough because the other side didn't answer. The lady hollered jokingly: "Y'all got no honor!"
You can't really see it in this clip, but you can hear the "whooo's" of the 'wavers.' The 'honor' thing comes after it. I was busy filming the waterfowl:
A guy with a young kid who was probably his grandson came and stood next to me. Check out what he had on his hat:
They played some music before it actually started. Testing the system, keeping people entertained, letting us know it was about to start, etc...
I brought my ear plugs with me on a whim. I'm weird that way. Loud is all right. Ear-drum blowing? Not cool. I've gotten caught too many times close to a booming speaker and had to spend an event with my fingers in my ears. Kinda sucks the fun right out of it. So I brought them with me, just in case. Glad I did.
The intro stuff was a fine volume level, but when Beck came on...Yikes!!!! I pulled 'em out, shoved 'em in, and they stayed in the entire rally. The people around me thought it was pretty funny, but I didn't care. I was really thankful for them when that one black lady got up to sing. Good grief. Not that she sang bad, but she sang LOUD.
The intro videos were good, but corny to my taste. Too much sap and me don't mix. Doesn't mean they weren't good, it's just not my thing.
I won't get into too much of the rally itself; you can view it on C-SPAN. But I will say that when the lady in red got up and talked about how her son had gone down in a plane, and her grandson went to get his toy toolbox so he could fix Daddy's plane... I choked right up. And I don't choke up easily, trust me.
As for Palin's speech, I'm glad she went early. It was a tad cooler in the beginning because the sun had been hiding behind clouds for much of the morning. We were also pretty fired up at the beginning and our attention span was still intact. About two-thirds through, I started tuning some of it out. I ended up watching the ducks swim around in the pool, wishing that I could join them. It was hot and humid. I hear that at the very back, a fire truck actually opened up one of its nozzles so people could cool off. Kids were running through the water. Anyway, back to Palin.
I didn't go to hear Palin speak. I really didn't. If it had been just about hearing her speak, I could have done that from the comfort of my couch watching live television. That she was going to be there was an extra draw, for sure, but it wasn't about that. It was about the country. It was about being there. I don't know how to describe it.
But, she's the whole reason you're reading this, right? You want to hear about Palin? All righty then.
When they introduced Beck, they played that "Westward Ho!" type music, which I thought was odd. It didn't really fit. When they brought Palin on, they played the same thing. Nothing wrong with the music itself, I just thought it didn't fit the mood at all. Here we are waiting for something inspirational, something "military honorey," and instead, all of a sudden I'm thinking - "Beef. It's what's for dinner."
Ooookay. But I noticed that it came across much better on video than it did live. There must be a difference between the mood in the crowd and what a TV audience is willing to accept.
Anyway, she got up and gave a great speech. I don't know how it came across on tape, I haven't watched that part on video yet, but in person it was perfect. When she said, "I raised a combat vet, and you can't take that away from me."
When she said, "My fellow Americans..."
Oh, you know what I was thinking. ;)
After that point, I thought about how our actual President should be the one saying these things. Instead he was hiding away somewhere, ignoring the rally. Getting ready to brush it off. He should have been there. Obama should be the type of man who would have made it a priority to be there. Alas, he is not.
When he went to Chicago over Memorial Day weekend and Joe Biden gave the address at Arlington Cemetery, I was glad. I was glad because Joe Biden has his faults, he's a gaffe-a-minute, but I think he cares. You don't get the feeling that he hates the troops or this country. He at least likes this place. I don't think Obama does. I don't think Obama feels anything for anyone other than himself. And that's a crying shame. With the popularity Obama had going into office, with the historical nature of his Presidency, he could have been so much more. He should have been.
America deserves to have a President who says these things and means them:
Palin acted as Commander-in-Chief that day. She said the things we should be hearing from the Oval Office. She continues to fill the void. It felt like she was the authority figure at the rally. I don't know how to describe it.
I didn't get any pics of her or attempt to record anything. I wasn't close enough to get anything good, and I knew it would all be on the Internet anyway.
As for the rest of the rally, it was great. They talked about God a lot more than I thought they would. I was pretty shocked about that. Some of the speakers got downright doctrinal. Not complaining, it was really cool, actually. I just wasn't expecting it.
The one black preacher was hilariously inaccurate in his message, but his heart was in the right place. And the heart is what counts, right?
A lot of talk about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for obvious reasons. Dr. Alveda King spoke. I confess, I was still a little mad at her for what she said about Palin the other week. But she gave an awesome speech. Great lady. I may have given her a scowl in the beginning though, 'cause, like I said, still a little angry. I'm over it.
Beck said later that he thought Dr. Alveda King got the biggest cheers, and I think he may have been right. Ear plugs kind of impede my judgment on the matter though. :)
Only one thing I really took issue with: she talked about how we need to end racism in this country. Um, call me crazy, but I don't think that's a huge problem anymore. Oh, I'm sure there are still a few idiots running around, but what we really need now is an end to race-baiting in this country. Just my two cents.
I loved the ducks. I got some stuff of the geese flyover, but it wasn't in that great of focus, so I won't bother posting it.
Man, it was hot. That water looked dirty, but wet. I don't know how Governor Palin sits through this stuff and still looks fabulous and ready to go. Must be the Red Bull.
At the very end, they got the bagpipes out for "Amazing Grace." I love Celtic music and I love the bagpipes. The audience was way out of sync in the beginning, but who cares? I grabbed this snippet from C-SPAN. Palin at about 2:00 -
When it was all over, I knew I wouldn't be taking the Metro back. I also knew I wouldn't be hanging around to look at the other memorials like I'd wanted to. Not if I wanted to catch my flight. Hundreds of thousands of people kind of get in your way.
So, I took the Mt. Vernon Trail back to the airport. My camera had finally succumbed to the heat, which was a bummer, so I didn't get any of the scenery on the way back.
As I left the grounds (inch by inch because of the crowds), a guy behind me pointed out Governor Palin leaving the event. I couldn't see from where I had been during the rally if she had stayed after her speech, but then I knew that she had. She was walking behind this green barrier thing that was kind of see-through toward her waiting car. A big security guy walked in front of her and a couple of lucky kids in green t-shirts ran along behind. I only saw her for a few seconds.
When I got to the road, a big security guy was going around the front of a big black suburban with heavily tinted windows. I assume it was Palin's car since it was in the direction she'd been heading. I couldn't see inside of it because the windows were so dark. I walked in front of it on my way to the bridge and watched it drive off. Maybe it wasn't her, but it's a pretty good assumption, I think.
So, I walked back along the river. Was tempted to jump in. There was a lot of debris along the shoreline though. Branches and 2-liter Coke bottles bobbing in it. It was still gorgeous.
I had to get the river from the airport after my camera came back to life.
Can't see much from that distance. Oh, well. It was beautiful anyway. Lots of people were out enjoying the sunny day.
While waiting for my plane, I overheard this one guy talking to a couple others who I assume were at the rally. He was a ways away from me, but his voice carried. I didn't catch all of it, but I heard these snippets:
"We've had to lay people off for the first time in decades. We survived Carter's administration without any layoffs, but not this one."
(Talking to a lady about Palin) "She's not stupid." (something else I couldn't understand) "I don't know how she stays sane. I'm a psychotherapist, and I need advice from her."
I fell asleep on the plane immediately. Didn't wake up once on the flight to Chicago. In Chicago, I stumbled around like a drunk. I'm lucky I made it to the right flight.
Slept from Chicago to my home too.
One cool thing about our airport is that we have a military base close by, so every time I've ever flown in or out I've always seen uniformed military personnel on the flights. And the flight attendants always give them preference in everything and thank them as they get on and off the plane. Sometimes they even get on the little handset and have the rest of us applaud them.
Another thing I like about it is that it's small. As far as I know, only one gate is ever used, although technically they have three. In a pinch they'll use two.
Anyway, that was my trip. Got back home and slept for 17 hours before heading back to work. Sore muscles, dehydration, fatigue, and it was all worth it. I consider it all a part of the adventure.
The whole event was geared to raise money for the SOWF. I think Beck said they raised over $5 million for that cause. I didn't know much about them until this rally. I think they just may become my charity of choice around Christmas time this year.
I haven't had too much time to let the actual message of the event sink in. The trip and everything involved kind of took my attention away from really absorbing the full impact of what occurred.
Something is happening in this country; in the entire world. It may sound incredibly corny, but God is moving. The Great Awakening preceded the American Revolution. He always sends a revival first. I don't know if one is coming, but wouldn't that be something?
"Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you..."
I hear that the Smithsonian is asking Glenn Beck to provide some videotape of the event or something. I guess that means we made history. Maybe someday I'll dig this post out, dust it off, and tell my kids - "I was there."