Oh, and sidenote: today's front page WaPo coverage starts off saying "tens of thousands of people" were marching. That's total bullshit - the figure was at least 150,000 and probably closer to 200,000 or 300,000 people. In comparison, the Freepers and counter-demonstrators had something like 200 people, who I didn't even see. ETA: According to AmericaBlog the Freepers were expecting 20,000 and LESS THAN 100 showed up. What a joke. Anyways, back to my account:
I met up with bailunrui, who was decked out in pink to show solidarity with the Code Pink ladies, at Union Station around 9am to get breakfast, make signs and coordinate. We decided to stick with simple, straightforward messages - her sign read "Patriots for Peace" and mine said "Peace is Patriotic". And yes, I know I wrote the wrong URL at the bottom of the sign, shuddup. Then we did face paint - an American flag for me, a peace sign for Lauren. (I'm scared to get a peace sign on my face, because when I was 8 a guy at the carnival accidentally gave me a Mercedes Benz sign instead, and everyone laughed at me all day.) Union Station was already jam packed with protesters arriving from Amtrack trains, buses, Metro, etc and we got plenty of thumbs-up and "hell yeah!"s from people around us. Very cool.
Next, we headed got back on the Metro, met lots more cool people (including some who worked for Jane Goodall!) and started out to the Ellipse where the Rally and March was getting started. First though, I got Lauren to take a pic of me in front of the EPA.
Because the way this administration is going, the EPA is going to be a Halliburton gift shop in two years. Anyways, down at the Ellipse, we saw the famed "Camp Casey" for Cindy Sheehan's son.
More profound and moving were the displays of crosses and empty boots, symbolizing the more than 1900 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.
Very intense. Oh, and we saw the famous Grover Norquist quote about government:
Nice irony, asshat. Here's a couple more:
[Yes, yes we do.]
[There were TONS of veterans running around, some from Vietnam but a lot more young Iraq War veterans. It was beautiful.]
Next we headed over to the... um, was it still the Ellipse, or was it the White House Lawn? Whatever, there was a bunch of speakers. One great speaker was a Congresswoman from somewhere, who really spoke from the heart and got us all applauding. Jesse Jackson spoke as well, and he was *amazing*. In between speakers, we wandered around and saw more great signage:
[Tiiiiiiiiiiiiin roof! Rusted.]
[Brits hate Bush too!]
[Lauren in front of the White House]
[The pink sign says "Healthcare Not Warfare". YES.]
After Jesse, the Congresswoman, and a couple other good speakers, Cindy Sheehan came on. Now I understand why she inspired thousands to sit with her & burn in the Texas sun in August - the woman is ELECTRIFYING. She really makes you feel her pain, and makes you want to go out and make a difference. CINDY, MUCH LOVE.
Then there were some other speakers, and.... hmmm. I'm not sure how to really address this. Basically, ANSWER had a bunch of people come up there and speak about how Israel is illegally occupying Palestine, and that the recent Gaza pullout was not enough, and we all need to work towards freeing Palestine, etc etc for like an hour. In between the talk of freeing Palestine, there was also discussions of freeing Haiti, and freeing Cuba, and some other stuff. Which made me extremely uncomfortable. The thing is, I really don't want to get involved in any of that Israel/Palestine discussion, because I don't truly understand what it's about, and it's not my cause. I didn't come out yesterday to talk about Palestine or Haiti - I CAME OUT TO TALK ABOUT THE IRAQ WAR and that's it. I thought ANSWER was going to limit the message to that issue alone, but I guess that flew out the window. Not cool, ANSWER. I think those guys are a real hindrance to the larger peace movement, honestly, and if I find out they're the major organizer of the next anti-war rally I'll probably stay home.
So, yeah, I was getting increasingly uncomfortable with the direction of the rally speakers - not to mention, they were still going on an hour after they were supposed to stop. So we headed out towards the Pennsylvania Avenue main march.
SO MANY PEOPLE OMG. And we weren't moving, like, at all, because a bunch of road blocks had people bottlenecking at several points. But the good part was getting to see more signage and take "gratuitous crowd shot" pics.
[Jesus, Prince of Peace. Amen.]
We hadn't gone on the march route more than a couple blocks when 2 unfortunate things happened - (1) the overcast sky finally started to drizzle and rain, and (2) I started to get dizzy, lightheaded and like I was going to pass out. I think it was a combination of having a really stressful week on top of marching/standing in place with so many thousands of people invading my personal space bubble. Whatever brought it on, I knew that I'd put in my protest time and needed to get out. So I asked Lauren if we could bail, and she graciously agreed. Thanks, babe!
Next, we headed back to Union Station (pushing our way thru the jam-packed Metro trains, which were at rush-hour capacity) and had lunch at a fabulous Uno's. Keeping with the DC spirit, they had special benches labeled "Democrats" to the left and "Republicans" to the right. (Guess which bench gets used more often in DC.) We had a great table overlooking the train station main hall, and a fabulously liberal waiter (remember - DC and all) named Austin who asked us about the protesting. Because he was so adorable and liberal, we asked if we could take his picture:
[Awwww, what a cutie!]
Also, we gave him a 25% tip. Because liberals understand how much waiting tables for cranky DC tourists sucks. :)
That's pretty much all I can remember - but bailunrui probably has more details to add, and will do her own protest-roundup post later. PS - all these pics are in my Flickr account here. :)