I should have gotten there earlier to get a better seat.
I figured starting the day only a mile-and-half away from the National Mall three hours before the event would be good enough to at least get me within naked eyesight of the podium, but I was wrong.
Columns of Beck supporters marched down the wide jogging paths on either side of the grass lawn between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument, many with lawn chairs slung over their shoulders.
They filed past a small group of Media-Matters-sponsored Beck protesters with a poster of the conservative commentator, labeled "nightmare" juxtaposed against Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "dream."
The official entrance to Beck's Restoring Honor rally, a giant fundraiser for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, appeared on the east side of the Washington Monument, where SOWF volunteers collected donations for the children of fallen soldiers.
The Washington Monument sits at the top of a slope. Facing west, the Capitol Building is directly behind you, the Jefferson Memorial is visible to the left, the White House is visible to the right, and straight ahead, sloping gently downhill is the World War II Memorial, the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial, immortalized 47 years earlier by King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
Having toured the site the night before, I walked nearby the stage and examined the large posters--Frederick Douglass, an astronaut, and a chieftain I didn't recognize. Music was playing on the oversized speakers, and small crowds had already formed and dropped their lawn chairs on either side of the Reflecting Pool, 18 hours before the event. The podium stood empty, not on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as I expected, but several landings below it. I hiked up the steps to see the seated Lincoln Statue--the chamber was already full of people. At Lincoln's feet were about 20 members of the U.S. Navy in white uniforms, who received a thunderous applause from onlookers.
Reverence for the military was a theme at the nonpartisan Restoring Honor rally, headlined by Beck and Sarah Palin, who said she spoke not as a politician, but as the mother of a combat veteran.[continue reading]