It massive, beautiful and powerful. There is little more I can say. But for those of you who weren't there, yesterday's event--which drew a staggering 3oo,ooo marchers and revelers (see pic)-- was one of the most emotional and memorable days I've had in a long time. I remember walking down Broadway and at one point turning around and seeing the spectacular crowd behind me and it moved me to tears. At that point on the route i was at the bottom of a hill and noticed for the first time the massive breadth this mob. There is something very powerful indeed about the 'crowd phenomenon.' Seeing that many people swaying to to the same beat on such a picture-perfect day blew me away. I get goose bumps just thinking about it.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I managed to get credentials for the press conference. Aparently the world is waking up to the power of the Blog, if I can get up close and personal with the likes of Cindy Sheehan, Susan Sarandon, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Yup, pretty much a mad liberal cabal you might say and there I was, knee deep in the heart of this thing covering it for the blog-o-shere.
But yesterday's march cut across all demographic lines: veterans, hippies, young, old, men, women, gays, straights, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddists, pagans, blacks, whites, et al.
Some of the most powerful messages were from the Iraq vetrans themselves.(see pic) Here is a group of Americans who put their ass on the line in the Iraq War, which is why what they have to add to this debate REALLY matters. The Vets had the crowd in a frenzy with the bootcamp marching-in-formation chants they reworked for the occasion. Talk about a showstopper.
At one point I ran into my friend Monique, from Philly. By that point I was sufficenty swallowed up in the mob and it was great to see a familiar face. Monique is hell on wheels, I see her everywhere. All images herein come courtesy of her talents. She snapped this one of me (see pic) and you can see by the shit-eating grin on my face that I am completely absorbed in the moment. I wish I could do that more often, capture the feelings of yesterday. It was that special.
Three hours after the parade of began, the last of the marches had finally poured into lower Manhattan's Foley Square Park. By this point the atmosphere had turned decidedly festive. It took on the air of a Grateful Dead show minus the acid and balloons. We didn't need drugs. We were high enough on life. I'll let that one linger.
After mingling with everyone and anyone, I came across some gay hippies with body paint and so I stripped down and got painted up. There was dancing and street theater and singing and all that Kumabaya stuff. It was one of those times I was having so much fun I didn't want to leave. Not even to pee. Finally I could wait to longer and on my way the the Port-o-Potty, I came across this man and his sign, which to me was the most evocative of the entire day. (see pic)
Needless to say it stopped me dead in my tracks. Here is a man mourning the death of his 20-year-old Marine son, Alexander Arredondo and reminding the crowd of the real costs of war. I have to admit that I felt foolish, all painted up and in a festive mood. But when Mr. Arrendondo and I made eye contact I somehow felt as though I understood his heart and his pain completely. Such was the overwhelming feeling of solidarity that graced us all yesterday. My father was a career Marine and Vet. The image of this young man lying in a casket while wearing his dress blues looking peaceful and handsome and brave just ripped my heart out. Another weepy moment, to be sure.
I would not have missed yesterday for the world. I was proud to take part and I am proud to be a liberal. And for the record, the event was sponsored by a huge coalition of organizations such as the Labor Movement, NOW, civil rights groups, environmentalists, student groups, and Veterans. So as we all come down off yesterday's buzz, we can look to November (and election day) with a completely energized base. That will be the long term legacy of yesterday's march.
P.s. It's rare that such a massive crowd could feel this intimate. On that note,a special shout out to Phillip and Janette who are a big part of what made yesterday so special. If I never see you guys again, thanks for keeping me company!