Monday, November 1, 2010

200,000 Well-behaved People Rally for Sanity

Mr. Man and I flew to Washington, DC on Friday night to attend the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.  We got up early on Saturday morning and walked to the Farragut North Metro Station.  Waiting on the platform we were surprised by the small number of people waiting for the train, but when it rolled in, it was tightly packed. We barely managed to squeeze on. Getting off at the Chinatown station to change to the green line we waited in a long line of people to get up the escalator. The air was charged. People were smiling and laughing, anxious and excited to get to the rally. We jumped on another crowded train to the Archives Station and walked up 7th Street with hundreds of others, picking up stickers, cones, and towels from volunteers along the way. 

Arriving at the Mall around 9:15am, we immediately made our way toward the stage.  It was packed and moving was slow.  The closer we got, the tighter it became.  At times, we were literally walking shoulder-to-shoulder, squeezing through any opening we could find.  Finally finding a spot on the right side of the stage about 100 yards back with a large screen just ahead, we settled in. 

It was quiet considering the number of people; everyone peacefully waiting for the rally to begin. We talked with others about where they were from and made friends with those immediately around us, and passed the time looking at the signs and the costumes.  By 11:00am they were no longer allowing anyone to enter the front section where we were as it had reached capacity.

The show was, at times, slow but it didn’t matter; we were there.  I thought Colbert in particular was over the top at times, he was almost a caricature of his character.  Myth Busters’ Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage took the stage early on and had the crowd do the wave, beginning at the front of the stage and ending in the back, wherever that was.  It was an incredible sight! When they had us do it again, just women, followed by just men, they timed it; it took almost a full minute to reach the back.

Sam Waterson read a poem by Colbert, "Are You Sure?".  The highlight was when Yusuf Islam (you may remember him as Cat Stevens) took the stage to sing “Peace Train.” He was interrupted by Colbert who then introduced Ozzy Osbourne. There was a roar from the crowd at the opening notes to “Crazy Train.” The interruptions went back and forth until the duo left the stage. From off stage we heard a voice, "love" it said.  It was the lead singer of the O’Jays, who took the stage to sing “Love Train.”

We were also treated to performances by John Legend and the Roots, who actually got the show started, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow, Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), and Tony Bennett who closed the show with “America the Beautiful.”

The day was inspiring and as I listened to Jon Stewart’s closing speech, I was grateful to have experienced it. I am still awed by the knowledge that 200,000+ people—young, old and middle-aged; black, white and brown; Christians, Jews and Muslims—can come together and stand shoulder-to-shoulder without anger, or judgment, or as Stewart would say “douchiness.”

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