What a ride! We rendezvoused at my home, Mabel from St. Cloud in Central Florida and Frank from the south end of the Space Coast, at about 7pm Friday evening. After loading up the SUV (that’s right… a gas guzzler at 28 mpg), we headed north for the nation’s capitol. Carefree highway, right? I-95 all the way up, and after a few fuel and rest stops along the way, we made it into the outskirts some 860 miles and 14 hours later.
But we didn’t drive into DC. That would have been motorist suicide. Instead, the game plan was to drive to Franconia, Virginia, where we would park and ride the Metro to either the Foggy Bottom or Smithsonian stops. We figured the walk from the Metro station to the event at the Lincoln Memorial would be under a mile from either point.
We made our way off the Interstate to the Metro location, and parked in an adjacent multi-level garage. On the palm of her hand, Mabel jotted our location, Sarah Palin style: Level 4, Section E.
As we descended the stairs to the street level, my phone rang. It was Elizabeth Letchworth calling from the jetway at a Florida airport to see if we had made it safely. She also was flying to DC, but for a different purpose, and wouldn’t be landing at Reagan until after the Restoring Honor event was over. Elizabeth is our regular Wednesday night feature when we discuss what’s happening on Capitol Hill. She was for 26 years the elected Secretary of the US Senate, and does consulting on legislative affairs for an international law firm at its Washington DC offices. She is also the founder and editor of GradeGov.com.
As we walked further, we merged with dozens of others also making their way toward the Metro station. The crowd size swelled as we got closer. My cellphone rang again. This time it was Nancy, the former owner/publisher of Space Coast Living Magazine for whom I had written as their senior editor a few years ago. Nancy and her husband Drake have recently relocated to the DC area.
“Andrea!” she warned. “Don’t take the Metro. It’s packed with hundreds of people and the trains are only running every twenty minutes — they’re on the weekend schedule. You’ll never make it in time,” she cautioned. “We’re at the end of the Orange line at Vienna and I don’t think we’re going to get on. It’ll take hours.”
Based on that intel, Frank, Mabel and I decided to hail a cab. Another group with the same idea yelled to us, offering to share the ride. We climbed into the van for the $38 trip across the Potomac. It was well worth it. The driver let us off just behind the Lincoln Memorial. During the drive over the Memorial Bridge, my cell rang again. This time it was Dave from Dallas who was already there with Ben Smith, US Navy SEAL (ret), who traveled with us on the Tea Party Express national tour. Dave from Dallas is a frequent commenter on this site.
“Andrea, I don’t know how we’ll ever find each other,” he yelled into the phone. “It is elbow to elbow and they’re saying there are at least 400,000 people here already.” We agreed I would call him once we arrived at the site, and determine from there if we could find each other.
As we alighted from the cab, what we saw was well beyond our expectation. Wall to wall people, fellow Americans who came from all parts of the country to restore and be witness to the greatest civic event in our lifetimes. It was overwhelming.
My cellphone rang again — Kristinn Taylor of Free Republic, calling from Florida with a layout from his vantage point in front of his TV — “the crowd is all the way back along the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument, and the side areas are filled,” he said. “Where are you?” “In the middle of a sea of humanity,” I said. As an aside: Cellphone service was spotty with lots of dropouts. Heavy cellular traffic was the suspected cause. Lesson there?
We tried to get our bearings in the hot sun. The event was just about to begin. We were behind the stage area, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, with few options. It was wall to wall bodies. The word “throng” comes to mind. After grabbing a few photos, we decided to find shade, and headed left to a copse of trees at the foot of a soft hill.
We maneuvered around blankets and through thickets of lawn chairs, hopped over or bent under chained stanchions, and literally squeezed through walls of folks moving toward us. At some point, we spotted a vacant piece of real estate. Settling down to sit on the grass, someone kindly invited me to share her blanket (lest I get my light colored linen slacks dirty, she said. I had to laugh. After living in them for nearly 17 hours, one wouldn’t say they were “crisp”, if you catch my drift…)
Nevertheless, I gratefully accepted her offer, and because we couldn’t see the stage through the trees, I laid back, and using my backpack for a pillow, closed my eyes and listened to Sarah, Alveda, Glenn and the others under the welcome shade. Nearby, an exhausted Frank (who had spent the day before at his job driving a fuel tanker truck) sat Indian-style and while still sitting up, promptly fell asleep. I should have taken a picture. It was pretty impressive. Frank never spilled a drop from his bottle of ice tea.
Meanwhile, the perpetually optimistic and cheery Mabel sat perched atop an electrical utility box, smiling happily, perfectly delighted to be there on her birthday. Happy birthday, Mabel! What a party!
I didn’t take as many pictures as I intended… it was just too hard to manage a camera while maneuvering through the crowd. We stayed until the heat, the crowd, and the exhaustion of 24+ hours without sleep reached its toll. With 45 minutes left in the program, we made the decision to leave. As the event continued, we moved east away from the crowd, crossed a grassy field past the World War II Memorial toward Constitution Avenue to eventually hail a cab back to our car. In retrospect, we probably should have stayed where were were and napped under the trees, letting another hour or two pass until the crowds had left.
A weekend turnaround that included 28-plus hours on the road and an event that will hopefully and prayerfully “fundamentally transform” America… it was exhausting, exhilarating, and purposeful. We are restoring honor within ourselves and telling those in government that they don’t get to do what they’re doing without repercussions from We the People. Larwyn the link aggregator tonight reminded me of this post at The Jacksonian Party:
In the wake of Glenn Beck’s rally for Restoring Honor in our lives and our Nation, we see the deep and powerful themes of the need for God in the public square and to lead a moral life so as to seek our own path to salvation so as to build a better society. These are very strong messages and are well intoned to reach across lines of different religions so that we can come to understand who we are, as individuals, so as to better define who we are, as a Nation. For believers and non-believers, no matter the sect, creed, clan or race involved we are all part of this universe and no matter your personal stance you must come to terms with that universe and your place in it.
Terresa Monroe Hamilton has put together a fabulous compilation of photos, videos and links to articles about the Restoring Honor event. Be sure to visit her site to see it. It captures the moment, the mood, and the magnificence of being among hundreds of thousands of fellow Americans who’ve made the effort to come together for the love of our Country. Here are the few pix I managed to snap. They include Mabel, Frank, and me.