Saturday, August 28, 2010, my husband, two daughters, and I attended the Restoring Honor rally in Washington D.C. It was a wonderful experience for us all. The crowd was huge (500,000 + people), very peaceful, and individuals were kind and patient. You might think that the important part of the weekend was the three and a half hours (or more) that we spent together during the rally. When I was sitting under the bright, hot sun with my friends from Texas I thought so too. But I was wrong…
During the first leg of our trip home, from D.C. to Chicago, our two daughters, ages 22 and 16, sat next to an African-American gentleman wearing an Obama inauguration t-shirt. After take-off, he mentioned to them that he had travelled to D.C. to attend Al Sharpton’s Reclaim the Dream rally. Our older daughter told him that they were in D.C. for the Glenn Beck Restoring Honor rally, and the conversation took off from there.
The gentlemen told my daughters that he went to Restoring Honor rally with several friends because Al Sharpton told them that we were holding a negative protest that was against MLK’s message and against those who had gathered for Rev. Sharpton’s rally. He said that when he and his friends arrived that they didn’t see anything that they expected, so they stayed a bit to listen. They realized that Restoring Honor was not anything like what Rev. Sharpton told them it would be. They then returned to the Sharpton rally to try to tell several people that what Rev. Sharpton was saying about our rally was not true. He saw that our rally was not a political or hateful rally, and that it was not meant to divide Americans. He tried to get a message to Rev. Sharpton prior to his speech, but either he didn’t get the message or he ignored the message. Rev. Sharpton went forward with his original speech as planned.
This kind gentleman then told my daughter some things that amazed us. He told them multiple times that he was a Democrat, and that the tide had turned since MLK’s day, and that the civil rights movement had not changed with it. He asked the girls to watch Al Sharpton on CNN. He thought that Sharpton looked ridiculous on CNN because it was the perfect opportunity to say that he was sorry for his criticism of the Restoring Honor rally. Then they discussed the media. He and the girls agreed that the lack of truth in the media and the lack of individuals’ willingness to do their own research would be our country’s downfall. He followed up by saying that Glenn was something special and possibly the modern day MLK. He said that from now on when Glenn spoke he would take the time to listen, and that Glenn, someone like him would be the next great President. The girls told him that they felt sure that Glenn would never run.
The girls asked if he would come to the rally if we had another one. He said maybe, it depended on what was going on in life, but he said that he would be with us in spirit for sure.
During the last few days I talked with folks and I came to understand two things:
First, the event wasn’t for or about 9-12ers, Tea Partiers, or those of us who have become politically active during the last year and a half. It was for ALL of America — every single person that we hope will be inspired to put God, integrity and honor first in their lives. It was for the majority of Americans who may even be watching from the sidelines, but who believe that the priorities of Faith, Hope (Trust), and Charity.
Second, there is REAL hope that Americans of all ethnicities and faiths can peacefully unite around our common desire for truth in our lives and in our country. We cannot give up and we must continue to build relationships, one person at a time through kitchen table conversations. We must help every American know that they are not alone and that there are many folks who will unite with them around our honorable founding principles.
Pretty strong stuff. Our 16 year old told me that the weekend experience changed her life.