While I’ve been to a number of rallies in DC over the years, this is the first anti-war rally I’ve been to. During the Viet Nam era, I was an admitted hawk. But the thing that made me want to go to DC this time was the government response to Katrina. It was deadly, embarassing, and made the Bush administration look really bad.
I took a chartered bus from Pittsburgh (we sent something like 15 busses), and we arrived in downtown DC around 11:30. The march was due to start around 12:30.
Drowning the People Billboard
Various Signs Including: Bush’s War Refutes Intelligent Design
I wandered around to some of the pre-march rally, looking for buttons, for people whom I thought might be there. I found the rally somewhat disappointing as there was a fair amount of anti-Israeli rhetoric by some of the speakers. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the mess in the Middle East. However, even though I felt those kind of speeches sent the wrong message, I was certainly in complete agreement with the speakers about the mess the Bush administration has made of things!
My favorite button/sign of the day was: Make Levees, Not War.
Dead Men’s Boots
Axis of Evil: Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld (that’s a poster of Casey Sheehan inthe background)
Cheney the Puppetmaster
Shot of the Crowd at the Pre-March Rally
Getting the march started seemed to take a while. Often, these things start late.
Around 1:15, I went to see if there was any way to get in place for the march. The intersection where the march was due to start from was jammed with people not really moving anywhere. I got pushed around by the crowd a little (which shows you how densely packed everyone was – I am not a little person and I don’t get pushed around that easily). After a bit of this I started to feel a little claustrophic, so I followed along with a line of people trying to cross the street and wound up back near the mall.
Rally Near the Washington Monument
So, I decided to visit the National Book Festival. The National Book Festival was one of the few good ideas to come out of the Bush administration, and, wouldn’t you know it, it was probably Laura Bush’s idea. I mostly wandered down the mall, got a free book bag, visited some of the exhibits, took photos of the massive line Neil Gaiman had (probably at least 400 people), listened to George R. R. Martin talk, and finally returned for the March. By then, you could just join the marchers without being completely crowded; the densely-packed part of the march was long gone.
There were a few hundred counter-demonstrators. They were loud, obnoxious, but exercising their right to free expression. We booed and kept on walking. One of the counter-demonstrators had a sign that read something like “Fighting for America’s Freedom in Iraq.” Well, no. The last war that Americans fought in that had anything to do with America’s freedom was probably World War II and that was sixty years ago. Maybe Korea, but that was over more than fifty years ago. But the recent spate of wars has had nothing to do with America’s freedom and everything to do with America’s control.
It was late afternoon. I was exhausted and starved and tried to find some lunch. Eventually, I lucked into finding Red Sage, my favorite Tex-Mex place in DC. And I lucked into finding a seat in the bar area so I didn’t have to wait over a half hour for a table. I had a civilized lunch and went back out to finish the march.
Iraq Veterans Against the War
One Last Look at the March
I’m not sure how many people were at the march; I’d estimate over 100,000, possibly up to 150,000. Certainly over 100,000 more than the “pro-Iraq war” rally got!
I know marches are merely symbolic acts. We have a government that’s shown time and time again it doesn’t give a damn about American’s dissent. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t dissent.