We stumbled into a protest rally. The weather had finally stopped raining and church wasn’t until 1pm, so my visiting family and I decided to take a quick trip up to Washington DC to tour the monuments Sunday morning. Sam and I had visited the National Mall earlier in the week to see how closed things really were during the government shutdown (see that post here) and we figured my parents would be able to see something. Turns out we got more than we bargained for.
The visit started like our previous one. We walked past the pathetic attempt at a barricade and up to the bottom of the Lincoln Memorial stairs where the real barricade was located. Turning around I looked beyond the Reflecting Pool to a giant crowd of people, flashing policeman lights, and camera flashes in and around the World War II Memorial. A protest rally? Sweet!! “C’mon guys! Let’s go take photos!!” I urged my family. No takers. Rumor was that Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin were down there and involved and I was itching to go watch the craziness.
We do the responsible thing and head over to the Korean Memorial instead. 10 or 15 minutes later as we are leaving the memorial and deciding where to go next, we notice that people are streaming up the Lincoln Memorial stairs. “What?” I quickly text Sam at home and ask if the government just opened? Isn’t it Sunday? I thought they didn’t even meet on Sunday? What’s going on? Naturally, we head over to investigate and get up in the memorial while we still can.
The protest rally had come to us. Hundreds of war veterans, some dressed in uniform, some wearing t-shirts, some carrying flags, had removed the barricades, tossed them onto the lawn below, and were encouraging the tourists to “Come up! It’s open!”. Thousands of people thronged the Lincoln Memorial. Their enthusiasm was contagious. Everyone was shaking hands, thanking the veterans and taking photos. Then came the police.
“Boooo!” we all shouted. “Go away!” Poor guys. How would YOU like to be in charge of reinstating the unwanted fences and clearing all those people out? No thank you. As law enforcement attempted to move the barricade pieces back in place, the war veterans and various onlookers formed a human wall and got in their way. Shouts of “Tear down the wall!” rang out over the plaza followed by cheers as veterans wrestled the barricades from the hands of the police and once again deposited them on the lawn.
As the human wall reformed, a lone voice began singing the National Anthem and was soon joined by the entire crowd.
“O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!”
God Bless America.