Margaret and I participated in a number of gay rights/homosexual equality and pro-choice marches on Washington in the 1980’s and 1990’s in Washington, D.C., and I have NEVER been in such a densely packed march as the 9/12 Tea Party march today! Within minutes I got separated from the women I rode down with in the Harford County bus caravan –12 buses! — and the crowd was so thick I couldn’t see them or easily walk back and forth to find them.
So I just walked around on my own until it was time to go back to the bus at 3 pm, which was a pain, because around 2:30 pm Stacy McCain called to say he had press credentials for me, then we spent 20 minutes on our cell phones as he guided me through the crowd and maze of plastic crowd control fences the Park Police had set up. When I finally found him and got the press pass to hang around my neck it was like have a magic crowd-parting talisman, providing I said the magic spell, “Press! Excuse me!” although this was slow going because people didn’t have much of any place to move to, even with the magic talisman and spell, especially in the area near the stage, where I had to go because that’s where the press table was.
I mostly just took photos of picket signs I liked AND of people in wheelchairs and scooters, who I have never seen in such numbers at any event, ever. I love them for Margaret’s sake and one woman on a scooter was the highlight of my day.
I’ll post photos tomorrow and there will be lots if I can figure out how to batch process them.
On the bus coming home I asked my march buddies Barbara, Valerie and Beth what was the most inspiring part of the march for them. Barbara said it was the people. Does that sound trivial? It is not. It is the central and most important experience of marching as a group for a cause. That was my experience in the gay rights marches — you never feel completely alone and powerless again after you have seen and heard and felt the power of being surrounded by a sea of like-minded people AND shouted to the world that you intend to change it — especially in THAT place in D.C. on the Mall with the obelisk of the Washington Monument at one end and the majesty of the Capitol Building at the other. It makes your heart sing! It fills you with determination to work for your goal and press on to victory. And it gives you faith that the crowd you are in today will act like a magnet to draw more in because it encourages so many others to step forward and join.
Good night and I send love and hugs, gentle readers — I am walking on sunshine!
Update, 9/13/09: Via Michelle Malkin I found Nice Deb’s copiously illustrated takedown of Media Matters’ claims the number of marchers was far less than the 1.2 million estimated by the Park Police, who have had a LOT of practice at estimating the size of crowds and are very systematic about it because there is always a headcount war. I’ve been in several marches on Washington and this was the most densely packed crowd of people I’ve ever experienced.