The news media wants to downplay the 9-12 March on Washington by saying there were 10's of thousands of protesters. That is outlandish. Home Land Security and a group at U. of Illinois trained in crowd estimates based on overhead photography independently came up with 1.2 million. Some groups with bias on the other side gave estimates of 1.7 to 2.0 million. I have been to 6 World Series games and know full well what a crowd of 10's of thousands looks like. The 9-12 March was NOT 10's of thousands. Oh, don't be fooled by pictures taken from the Capitol looking west to the Washington Monument. We were not allowed on the grass of the Mall. They claimed it was reserved, but no one used it. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind why we were not allowed on the Mall (grassy area between the Capitol and the Washington Monument). It is so when people look at photos of the scene, which is what is normally used for giant crowds (Martin Luther King speech, inaugurations, etc.), they will see no protesters there. It gives the illusion that the crowd, while somewhat significant (10's of thousands), was not one of the largest in DC history. In fact, some news media showed side by side photos to get this point across. Had we been allowed on the Mall, we most certainly would have filled it all the way to the Washington Monument (about a mile). Instead, we filled the streets on both sides running parallel to the Mall (one a 4-lane and the other a 6-lane) all the way to the Washington Monument. Also, what you don't see in those photos are the hundred thousand or so people on the north and south sides of the Capitol steps.
The March was scheduled to begin at 11AM so we planned to arrive at 10:30. We were two blocks north of Pennsylvania Ave. and had to walk west to get to the street where we would turn south direct to Freedom Plaza. At the first intersection, we glanced to our left and saw nothing but people totally filling Pennsylvania Ave intersection marching east toward the Capitol. Our hearts soared. We had both quietly been concerned that "We the people" would not show up in significant numbers. We began walking as fast as we could to Freedom Plaza.
When we got there, it was like a great sorrow had been lifted. The joy and pride I can't really describe. Think of how sad you were on 9-11 2001. This was the polar opposite. Looking east, there was an ocean of people already marching, block after block after block of them. The Plaza was overflowing and from every direction as people were rushing to join the March. It was like a dam breaking in multiple spots with people flooding in to be a part of history.
We did not leave until it concluded at 4 PM. There was not one arrest. No burning police cars, no broken storefront windows, and American flags were held high, not burned. There were chants of "USA USA" and "Can you hear us now." Hundreds of thousands of people singing God Bless America as we approached the Capitol. In all that time, I never heard a single person ask about religion, or political party affiliation. Race and gender did not matter. In fact, what everyone asked of each other was, "Where are you from." We were all so very thankful that the other person came to make a difference. Some came even though it was a serious burden financially. People came from all 50 states, some were in wheelchairs others pushed strollers.
On this day, all 1.2 million people came together to stand up for our Republic. It was a time to do our small part for the men, some barefoot, who braved the winter at Valley Forge, for those, both blue and gray, who gave the ultimate at places like Shiloh, Gettysburg and Bull Run, for the men and boys who leaped off the Higgins Boats at Omaha Beach and sank to the bottom never to rise and those who did make it to the beach only to be torn apart by pieces of metal, for the Frozen Chosen in Korea, the Vietnam Veterans who suffered 13-month long nightmares only to come home and be spit on, for the men and women who gave their lives to free the people of Kuwait and Iraq and for those now in Afghanistan. It was such a small thing we were called on to do last Saturday.
To those who did not make the 9-12 March, if this sounds melodramatic, well you just had to be there. I hope that next time you will be.
Glen A. Amos