By 5:30 am, as the rain soaked freedom fighters took off their dripping wet rain gear and settled into their seats, all four busses were off.
This was one of many caravans of busses leaving from several different locations throughout New Jersey and the nation on the morning of September 12, 2009.
This group and their busses were not coordinated or procured by any political action committee, union or politician. This particular group was a few hundred people who joined forces on a Yahoo internet group and there were many more just like it that assembled in different locations in the same way and for the same purpose.
Due to the anticipated volume of high traffic and people flooding the beltway into D.C. to attend the rally, our caravan ended in New Carrolton, Maryland where we all were to take the Metro into D.C. and begin our march.
We were not alone. Dozens of more busses arrived, as did dozens before us and after us. And pretty soon the Metro was overwhelmed with an endless torrent of people with signs and lawn chairs. The process was not an easy one. Each rider had to purchase tickets for the ride. Not a simple fete for people unaccustomed to the vending machines that dispensed those tickets and who were unfamiliar with the various train routes that the system operates.
The situation was congested and chaotic and yet an enthusiastic energy of excitment and good will prevailed in the crowd as people from allover the Eastern seaboard helped one another and made room for one another.
As the lines moved through the gates, a steady stream of protesters flowed up stairs and escalators to overwhelm the platform and the trains that arrived to shuttle them into D.C. Once on those trains, after arriving at Federal Triangle the long march up Pennsylvania Avenue began as our thousands snaked up the stairs and escalators of the Metro to surface outside on to Pennsylvania Avenue where our thousands joined hundreds of thousands who marched to the Capital grounds.
Along the way, chants of USA and other spirited mantra’s were shouted in unison as the endless throng of sign carrying Americans made it to the rally point at the Capital steps.
As the march up Pennsylvania continued with no end to its line in sight one became amazed at the signs and imagery which people creatively used to convey their concerns and desires. The creativity employed in each sign made was an amazing reflection of each individuals strong sentiments and few signs carried the same homespun images or slogans.
There were too many incredibly excellent signs and slogans for me to pick just a few to articulate but I will say that probably one of the most amusing and creative of all was found in the most unusual of places. A section off of Pennsylvania Avenue was lined with port-a potties. So many that it looked like a makeshift Korean War era village. On the doors to many of these facilities were signs that read “ACORN Field Office”. If you had to go really bad you were already in trouble because at one point not only was the line to use them over an hour long, the surprising site of these signs could have made you laugh hard enough to have almost had an accident.
Passing the ACORN latrines, as our contingency finally made its way to the Capital grounds, the entire plaza in front of the stage, near the steps of the Capital where the speeches and rallying cries were to come from, was filled to capacity. So deep were the throngs of people that the closest place we could set up camp was behind everyone else who got there before us. It was on the far side of the Capital reflecting pool near Third and Pennsylvania. From this distance the stage was just a distant image and those on it were mere specs. So far back was the crowd that even the Jumbotron screen above and behind the stage offered little opportunity to see what was happening on it. But the lod speakers enhanced the echo of every word uttered, making what could not easily be seen, easily heard.
Throughout the event I could not help but be caught up in the kindness and gentleness of literally everyone there. Contrary to the lamestream medias portrayal of these people, although they were clearly fed up with the government’s direction, they were not the heartless people crazed by illogical and ideological fits of anger and tantrums. As I walked among my conservative peers it became clear to me that this was the nicest and most friendly group of hundreds of thousands of people that I have ever been in the midst of.
I realized that whether they were the nicest group of angry people or the angriest group of nice people, you couldn’t deny that they were nice and that they were serious about the need for government to back off and start being fiscally responsibile and guiding itself by the Constitution that founded it.
People from all fifty states, from Alaska to Alabama and Washington State to Washington, D.C. were there and each one of them were more pleasant than the other. Each one was proud to point out the distance they traveled to make their point and each hand shaken was followed by “Hi I’m Joe from Nebraska” or “I’m Alice from Oregon“.
I introduced myself to a Joe from Montana who had invested in a matte finished canvas banner that showed President Obama symbolically tearing the Constitution in half. The banner was so well done and its image so shockingly profound that I needed a photo of me with this it and its amazing owner who traveled so far to make it clear that he felt our government was ripping apart our most sacred document.
I do not know what the actual total number of people in attendance was. During the rally, word had spread among the protestors that there were reports that FOX News stated the crowd to be estimated at 2 million while another network reported 1.5 million and CNN went out with the claim that tens of thousands were there. Till this moment I am not sure what the official totals were, but upon coming home I learned that FOX never reported 2 million while CNN did say tens of thousands. As for one who was there though, I will say that the crowd I was a part of may not have been a million people but it was not tens of thousands either. It was easily in the hundreds of thousands. A number that says quite a lot.
It was a number that probably surprised the White House which on Friday, September 11th, was asked about the planned Tea Party protest rally and the people behind it. Inresponse to the query, White House Press Secretary Roberts Gibbs, claimed that the White House was unaware of the planned rally. He also added, with a shrug “I don’t know who the group is”.
Well after Saturday, September 12th, hopefully someone will ask Mr. Gibbs if the White House is aware of us now and if he knows who we are.
We are the people. The American people who have been so disturbingly moved by the acts of a government that has come so unhinged that we are compelled to expend our own time, money and energy to come to Washington, DC to deliver our message personally. Such motivation and determination is something that the White House and Congress should understand.
We all remember that moment as a child when we were caught doing something wrong and told to stop by our parents but hesitated, only to quickly do as they said after they gave us that look and said, “don’t make me cover over there and make you stop.” Well the White House and Congress has not stopped their spending and intrusiveness and they made us come over there.
If our message is not loud enough for them to hear yet, than they will most assuredly be punished for their actions and sent to the respective rooms, back home where came from.
As for those who could not come to Washington, DC to deliver their message personally, hundreds of other Tea Parties rallies were held in 45 states throughout the country. When you include the people who attended those events in support of those us at the national rally, the number of Americans who went out of their way to take a stand this past Saturday far exceeds a million.
Yet some Democrats like liberal consultant and former Clinton aide Julian Epstein remarked on Sunday that “the people out there represent a small minority of 10 or 20 %.
Well here’s a newsflash for Mr. Epstein and his liberal colleagues.
The numbers that you call a small minority are just those who had the time and ability to physically join in the demonstrations but many more did not have the time and or resources to make it. Yet you better believe that they are just as fed up as those who did have the ability to march for freedom. So what you think is a “small minority” is actually a rather large majority. A majority who have sent their message and are just waiting for Congress’ response.
In 1994 Bill and Hillary Clinton experienced the results of what happens to a party and administration when they did not respond properly to the type of actions that they saw on Saturday. Those in power today would be wise to remember that lesson.
The march is over but the mission is not. A new page for conservative activism has been written after September 12th and the message it sends is clear, now it is up to Congress and the President to make sure they listen.
The ball is in their court now.
*Be sure to watch the video below and see the event for yourself.