Hat Tip: Garry Hamilton

By: Ken O’Donnell

The Trip

We left the house at 5:30 am and arrived at the Shady Grove Metro line at 8:45 in the morning, which we thought would be early. From Shady Grove, MD it’s roughly a 45 minute ride into DC. When we arrived, we waited in line for 90 minutes to take the Metro into DC. The line JUST TO ENTER the station stretched the extent of the red line indicated on the attached map. That’s out into the parking lot, past the parking deck and into the overflow lot. 90 minutes we stood, until the station manager elected to waive the fees to ride the train, which was what caused the wait to board a train. When we boarded, the line still stretched back to where we entered. Had we still had to wait to pay, it would have been 10:00 am until we boarded a train, which was when the rally itself was scheduled to begin. Even with the long waits, we saw NO ONE who showed up and decided to leave after learning of the long wait times. Everyone we saw show up decided to go anyway, even if it meant showing up after the event was nearly done.

We picked up the Metro at the Shady Grove line in Maryland. I’ve attached an aerial photo to help explain the distance. We arrived at the event location itself at 10:30. The reflecting pool was completely full. The WWII Memorial was full. So we made our way left, into the overflow field area which was congested, but still had some spaces. We set up our chairs, I erected my flag, packed a bowl and set up just in time to hear Sarah Palin speak.

The Venue

Even at the “overflow field” there were jumbo-trons and porta-johns for the attendees. Even at our distance, we missed nothing. The experience was awesome. Listening to the speakers was uplifting. Experiencing it, deep within the crowd, was an experience I cannot compare. Glenn’s saying, “We surround them,” comes to mind. Hearing the crowd sing the hymn “Amazing Grace” along with the bagpipes — which incidentally were NOT amplified over the sound system, but came to us in natural tones from over half a mile away — was indescribable. Hearing the crowd respond to questions posed by a speaker, or shout in unison to a plea for a praise — again — indescribable.

It was very much like a revival movement. And I was moved.

Please consider… God and I parted ways over a decade ago… and I was moved to tears at the event.

The Event

What we heard and what we experienced. was nothing less, and perhaps nothing more, than a spiritual revival. Yet… strangely… it wasn’t wholly religious. My wife attends church. She is active on the board. I do not go to church. I haven’t regularly attended church since I dropped out of a Christian college in the mid-’90s. Yet I did not feel like an outsider, an intruder or a mere observer. I felt included, in a way I haven’t felt included in a spiritual event in a long, long time.

This event was patriotic. It was deeply patriotic. Not in an “American Way or the Highway” sense, but in a deeply personal way. I felt challenged. We all were challenged, to be the best of who we were, in whatever calling we held. And we were encouraged.

The Crowd

I cannot say anything better about the crowd than they were the best of America.

I told my wife tonight that at leftist, progressive rallies you see segments of the population. Young people… women… minorities… you name it… you see groups. Saturday, I saw families. Not just families, but generations of families.

Some of the media have said that the event was dominated by “old people.” They had blinders on.

I saw generations of families. I saw grandparents with their children and their grandchildren, all in the same group. I saw the biggest cross-section of America in attendance I’ve even seen, coming together for a renewal. Different races. Different ages. And different social classes coming together for one purpose and to hear one message:

The country is on the wrong path.

And the solution is not in a party. The solution is not an election. The solution was not in one man.

The solution is us.

We were challenged to change us. Seriously. Not to go vote. I did not hear a call to go vote mentioned once. I did not hear a party mentioned, or a candidate. All I heard were individual challenges, time and time again, to get ourselves right. And only when we got ourselves right… right with our families, right with our own dignity and to be able to look ourselves in the mirror, and yes, right with our God — in whatever name and faith our God is — would be be able to restore the nation. That was the message of the day.

The Crowd Left

The crowd was Huge. HUGE. When we left, 30 minutes after the event itself had concluded, to board the Metro at the Smithsonian, the line stretched in two directions, down a city block both ways. We waited 40 minutes alone just to get off the sun baked sidewalks into the station.

The crowd left no trash behind.

Half a million people came to the Lincoln Memorial, and left no trash behind. I can’t go to a high school football game and not see trash in the stands. Yet, as God as my witness, my wife and I commented on how everyone picked up their empty water bottles and plastic sandwich wrappers and junk food bags, and took it with them. The sense of honor and decorum was overwhelming.

I felt welcome. Even smoking my pipe during the event, I saw no sneers. I heard no off-the-cuff comments to little Johnny about how smoking was bad. I must have had my picture taken about 40 times by attendees, flying my flag and smoking my pipe. I guess men like me must be a curiosity or a relic from a previous era. I even had ladies come up to me to tell me how the aroma reminded them of their fathers or grandfathers, and how it made them feel… nostalgic… even if they couldn’t come up with the word, I knew it was what they meant by the memories they shared with me.

So… What did I come away with?

This country is not doomed. Not yet anyway.

There are enough people that think like us, that believe we are destined for better things, that we can regain our foundations….

But it starts with the individual. It begins with me. And one man can change the world. Humble men. Honest men. If we do our part, this country can once again become the shining city on a hill. But the individual makes the difference.

The speakers were great. The message was great.

But the people I was there with — and my wife was the only person I went down with — everyone else was a complete stranger — the people I was there with were people who believe in this country, and want to restore it to greatness.

They believe we always were great. But somewhere along the journey, we lost our way and it’s up to us to make the nation great once again. And if we don’t, the world will plunge back into darkness.

So much for being a political rally, huh?


Anyway… that was my experience.

I’ve never seen that many people in one place ever. Cell phone didn’t work. We overwhelmed the infrastructure. You could send a text, but it took 10 minutes to get to your recipient.

I’ve never seen crowds that took up four lanes of traffic wide, for hundreds of yards when they walked. And I’ve never been around so many pleasant people in one place at one time. Yes, the message was great.

But the people were phenomenal.

So that’s my story. Here are some pictures we took while we were there.


UPDATE: Here are some slide shows from Andrea Shea King at The Radio Patriot – they are truly inspiring…

The Crowd

The Media Coverage

The Online Coverage