I was there. I have the sunburn to prove it. I am the proud new owner of a lot of pro-freedom schwag, like buttons that say, “I’m a Conservative and proud of it,” and “Liberty NOT Tyranny: Freedom of Choice.”
I met a Vietnam Vet from Texas; a lil’ ol’ senator from South Carolina named Jim DeMint; a young woman who survived a violent physical assault earlier this year who hopes to partake in “dolphin therapy” one day (dolphin therapy is a form of therapy utilized by the survivors’ support group, Joyful Heart Foundation, founded by actress Mariska Hargitay); I met a mom and her teenage son from Connecticut; I met teachers, coal miners, small business owners, retired couples, soldiers, artists, young politicos, bloggers, stay-at-home moms, truck drivers, bartenders, immigrants, families with babies, grandparents, and on and on.
I met Americans who were there after saving for months and those that gave up their summer vacations to make a stand and draw a line in the sand, daring Congress and President Obama to cross it.
Can you hear us now?
Before I give you my breakdown of the day’s events, I will address the size question. Based on the Capitol Hill Police’s own schematic used to estimate the crowd size at Obama’s inauguration, I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, we were at 250,000 to 300,000 shortly after I arrived at the Capitol building. A good friend of mine who is heavily involved in Seeds of Liberty up in Monroe was there and he spoke with a Capitol Hill Policeman who told him that this was the biggest crowd he had ever seen, including inauguration crowd for Obama. The Vietnam Vet I met happened to get a text from a friend, while we were talking, who had just spoken to a cop that estimated the crowd at 1.2 million. At the very, very least, the media should be using the phrase, “hundreds of thousands,” but some media outlets have already said, “Thousands gathered in D.C. to protest government spending...”
Do I have aerial photographs to prove it? No, sadly I don’t have access to a helicopter or a billionaire sugar daddy like Soros, so you’ll have to take my word for it. I have been able to find some pictures online that attempt to corroborate the initial estimates of ABC, CNN and the UK’s Daily Mail (here, here, here and here.) I am really peeved (that’s the nice word) at the organizers for not having a contingency plan for the possibility that we would reach a number like a million. Thus far it seems like they did not anticipate that kind of crowd and so did not have resources available to document it. It seems like a basic, basic weapon to have in one’s arsenal - i.e. documentation of a successful operation to wave gloriously in your opponent’s face. No wonder we are light years behind in the media/popular culture war.
And now for my account of the day.
My friends and I started out at around 8:00 a.m. We swung by Starbuck’s and grabbed drinks and early morning eats, and headed on down to Freedom Plaza. I stayed with my friend who lives there (thanks!) and she lives within walking distance so it was pretty sweet. When we showed up, the plaza was already packed, though it was definitely not teeming/overflowing yet. I was nervous it would stay that size, which was already numbering in the thousands - an hour before the event was schedule to begin. I hoped the crowd would grow exponentially.
For about two and a half hours I handed out some “Obama Credit Cards,” for which our tagline was, “Spend money just like the President!” and “Everybody gets a trillion!” and “Want to spend other people’s money like the President does? It’s so easy with the new ObamaCard!” To say that these were a hit would be the understatement of the year. People loved them and sometimes doubled over in fits of laughter. Many people took half a dozen more for friends and family back home.
The only way I can describe what was happening while I passed out cards is to say that there was a constant and heavy stream of people moving towards Freedom Plaza from every street, from every direction The march from Freedom Plaza to the Capitol was scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. but at around 10:30 a.m. we noticed that people seemed to be moving. Apparently the police had asked the organizers to start the march an hour early because we had too many people there.
We started walking down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol building. It was incredible. We passed by the Newseum, which has the First Amendment etched into the front of the building. I think everyone walking by deeply appreciated what that right meant to us at that moment. (Photo courtesy of And Still I Persist)
We arrived at the Capitol and by this time the area to the sides of the Capitol, in front of the reflecting pool, and around the reflecting pool were filled to capacity with people – and Pennsylvania Avenue was still completely packed with people marching. This is why, when using the schematic that the D.C. police used to estimate the size of the inauguration crowd, I know we numbered at least 500,000 by the end of the day. There is no possible way that we added up to a mere “tens of thousands” because by the time I got there we were already in the “hundreds of thousands” range. I then broke away from my friends and dove into the crowd to work my way up to the front.
Yeah right. There was no way I was getting much closer! The crowd was packed so tightly that I barely managed to find a spot directly in front of the reflecting pool. It was here that I was able to meet people and shared in conversation with so many different people from across this nation.
Eventually I moved further to side and up just a bit so that I could hear better. Freedom Works states that their sound system was guaranteed up to 100,000 people. I could barely hear from my first stop, implying, again, that we had many more than 100,000. From my second perch I met even more patriots. It was the first time many of us had ever been around so many like-minded folks and it truly made my heart swell. When you live in the lion’s den of liberalism you tend to forget that you are not alone, and sharing that afternoon with hundreds of thousands of other lovely, lovely people that share my values was breathtaking.
The guest speakers were wonderful, and they included regular folks as well as directors or representatives of various organizations such as the Cato Institute, the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, Tea Party Patriots, Freedom Works, and so on. Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) and Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) both said a few brief words of encouragement and made a point to say that they were there as fellow citizens, standing shoulder to shoulder with us, rather than as elected officials there to speak at us. But the best part was simply the camaraderie and strength we all felt. I've never been to any event with so many open and friendly people. It was like we were all already friends.
I hope the momentum and the activism do not dry up. I know that the opposition is salivating at the thought that this event was our last hurrah and that we will now fizzle out. Please do not let that happen. Do not stop now. I keep thinking of the soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their fight for freedom never lets up. They don’t really get to just put down their gun and say forget it, this is too hard. We all have to fight for freedom at some point. Our time is now. Continue the fight, just as our soldiers must do every single day. That fight is their burden, and this fight is ours, here at home.
Lastly, our message to Obama, Pelosi, Reid, MoveOn.org, the DNC, MSNBC, CNN, Organizing for America, and every other little punk-ass “progressive,” collectivist, statist think tank, activist group, propaganda mill, politician, and joe schmoe:
Do it. We dare you. Oh, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.