The 9-12 Rally of 2009 by Russell Earl Kelly
Two of my three brothers and I made the trip to Washington DC to attend the rally. It was my first trip but they had been there several times before.
My wife dropped me off a hotel in Kennesaw awaiting one brother to get off work at 7 AM. From there we picked up another brother in Woodstock and left his house at 7:30 AM. The satellite mapping said the trip was 666 miles if you like weird things. We spent over an hour getting to I-85 by crossing on Hwy 92 with its heavy traffic. Breakfast on the road was at McDonald's. Lunch was Pizza Hut.
Since one brother had accumulated hotel credits we stayed at the Holiday Inn downtown at 6th and C. We arrived around 8 PM on Friday evening, the 11th. Having driven in an extended truck the parking was a nightmare at the Holiday Inn because of the small spaces.
We ate supper at the buffet at the hotel. It was good food and the $22.95 cost was not as high as I had expected. There was a good selection of food. After supper we took a short walk to the open grass mall and I took 2 photos: one facing the Capital and the other facing the Washington Monument. About 4 blocks of the mall were covered by large white tents with signs for a black family reunion and a large preaching tent.
Saturday morning we were up at 7 AM. The local police had blocked off the McDonald's nearest the hotel because they were "checking it out." I wonder if a bomb scare had been called in to deprive us a place to eat. We were forced to eat breakfast at the hotel ($19.00 plus tip).
Since I had not been to DC before, they accompanied me to the Lincoln Memorial. I had a digital and video camera with me and decided to use mostly the still snap-shots on the way to the Memorial and switch to the other for most of the rally. We began walking from the hotel towards the Lincoln Memorial about 9:30 AM and did not see too many people along the route. We were concerned that the turnout would be small. We did not know that tens of thousands had already lined up that early. We photographed the sights to the Memorial and then headed towards the parade route.
Upon reaching the parade route around 10:45 AM the street was already packed as far as we could see in both directions. The crowd was not moving at that point so we started walking on the sidewalk to find a Georgia group. (We never found them.) About 11 AM, after walking fast for about 15 minutes the crowd began moving and shouting various clean slogans. It was not supposed to begin until 1130 AM. The most amazing thing was the rolling roar which began at the rear of the crowd and rolled forwards. That happened over and over. During the march we passed the White House and I photographed it on a disk which was later lost. I did video tape it and captured two helicopters taking off from the White House lawn at approximately 1110 AM. I was also amazed at how close the Capital buildings are to the airport and train stations which pose such threats.
The signs were all different and fun to read. My favorite has a photo of Martin Luther King and Obama. The sign read "He had a dream; we got a nightmare."
Upon arriving around 1115 AM at the end of the march around a giant pool several blocks from the Capital, it was already wall-to-wall people. We worked our way around the crowd and towards the Capital but never could get close enough to see the persons giving speeches. We heard no profanity and saw no real dissenters. The weather was threatening to rain, overcast and very comfortable with a good breeze. We met and spoke with people from all over. One lady was a moderate Democrat from Vermont. One black man held a sign which said "If you think health is expensive now, wait until it is free."
Around 130 PM we weaved outside of the inner crowd towards the Mall avenue. If you look for us in a crowd, I was wearing a white shirt and Navy hat CV18; one brother was wearing a red shire and Navy hat; another was wearing a red shirt and white hat. All three are white-haired. I am the good-looking one.
We were disappointed that the speakers could not be heard clearly but everybody seemed happy just to be there. The crowd still extended as far as we could see down the avenue of the march for over a mile. By 130 PM all of the side streets were clogged. We were told that thousands could not reach the rally because the underground train stations were completely clogged. I saw a newspaper photo of a packed crowd sitting on the law of one of the monuments over a mile away. What does that tell you about the crowd?
As we were leaving around 2 PM the crowd was still arriving from every angle as far as we could see. We did not see any news coverage other than 2 FOX vans which I photographed. When the crowd marched by the van it shouted "Glenn Beck" over and over.
We ate lunch at the now-opened MacDonald's on 6th street. There was no place to sit and we returned to benches beside the hotel to eat. The weather was still great and cool but I say news coverage which indicated that it must have rained after we left.
We returned via Asheville and Hiawassee and the return trip was much better with no traffic delays. The trip length was almost the same in both directions.