Flight for 2 from OC, CA to Washington, DC: $439
Hotel stay, Westin, Alexandria, VA: $539
Taxis to and from Washington DC: $75
Participating and getting to see first hand 1+ MILLION Americans give their time and money to express thier proud patriotism and love of country as well as thier respectful dissent against the soft tyranny of the ever expanding nanny state: Priceless!
And that’s a fact! It was a priceless and practically indescribable experience. But I am going to do my best to share it with you…..it was indeed a once in a lifetime event.
We arrived at Freedom Plaza, an open courtyard space on Pennsylvania avenue 10 blocks from the White House, at 7:30am. Keith and I were volunteers and there were hundreds of people already there, about 50 already wearing their neon yellow volunteer shirts.
Our taxi dropped us off right behind a car converted into an old fashioned ship with boxes of tea on its deck flying the Betsy Ross Flag. All around were American Flags of all sizes and signs of all shapes, sizes and addressing a variety of issues. Take a look at some of the pictures to get a feel for the crowd.
It was pretty much like the local tea parties we have been to, but of course with folks from all 50 states. Moms and dads, kids of all ages from babies in decorated strollers to kids to teens. Grandma’s and Grandpa’s, people of all races, all ages, all professions, all walks of life.
There were literally no strangers in this crowd as folks spontaneously spoke with their neighbors, reached out and shook hands. They shared stories of previous tea party experiences and reasons for being there. Many talked about thier trips and thier committment to being there.
The crowd on the mall kept growing and growing and the throng around the stage, where tea party organizers and supporters from all over the country spoke about their reason for being involved.
As volunteers, we were up and down the mall, seeing the crowd from all sides as well as being in the midst of it. At one point, when we realized we were short on volunteers, we went into the crowd doing on-the-spot recruiting and easily found 10 additional volunteers to help manage the crowd. The march was scheduled to start at 1 pm, but so many people had gathered at Freedom Plaza, the march started at 10:30 am.
We jumped in front of the crowd to get up to the West Lawn where the stage was set up and where we were set to work at the handicap section cordoned off next to the stage.
We passed bus after bus unloading as the first marchers moved up the street right behind us. The crowd looked pretty thin and spread out and I began to wonder if I had overestimated the number of people I saw gathering. Looking down the street, it became apparent that the police were holding the crowd back and allowing the traffic to cross. So the crowd came in waves.
The flags and the red, white and blue clothing and gear were in sight everywhere. From our vantage point near the stage, we saw the lawn fill up on both sides of the stage, behind the fenced off areas, and all down the lawn. The Capitol building is directly in front of the Washington Monument, and the area in between is called the National Mall. We did not have a permit to the National Mall, but the crowd simply spilled onto the walkways on both sides all the way to the monument.
I looked around and gasped. The crowd moving down Pennsslyania Ave, to the right of the National Mall, was massive and filled in the street solidly. For the next 3 hours, the people filled the street, marching and filling in every spot available.
The speeches were great, mostly from local tea party and sponsor organizations, a few musical groups, with music all tailor made for the crowd and occasion. But it was the crowd and the camaraderie and the feeling of being part of the expression of pent up frustrations by so many of us. For each person who came to DC on 912 to express their unhappiness at the government takeover of healthcare, business, energy and so many more issues, we each know many more back home just like us who could not make the trip. Most of the folks we met were willing to do whatever it took to be there because they needed an outlet to release their frustrations. This rally gave us just that venue.