Just a rough timeline of what I saw this past Sunday at the MVM.
0830: Arrived at National Mall. Found a parking spot about 1/2 mile from the WW2 Memorial. Noted that since I found a parking spot so close, that we probably were not going to hit the one million mark.
0840: Snapped a pic upon arrival to Memorial:
0900: Took a quick walk around. Ran into that guy who tried to mow the lawn at the Lincoln Memorial. He and a friend had their gear ready. Didn't take a pic.
0900-0930: Since the barricades had already been put aside, I took a walk around the memorial and ended up on the far side of the crowd pictured above. At around 0930, a voice behind me exclaimed, "Holy shit it's Sarah Palin!". I turned around and was literally face to face with her. She smiled, and kept walking. The only decent shot I took:
Unfortunately, during her speech a plant went insane and started yelling "I'm a racist and I'm proud". This happened about 10 feet from me. Said plant was ejected immediately.
0930: Ted Cruz shows up, gives a speech after Palin and Sen Mike Lee (R-Utah):
Again, my camera was not at the ready and he walked just as close as Palin. I was able to meet him and shake his hand after his speech. Nice fella. It was noted by Management that Cruz stayed around longer than any speaker just to talk to people.
0930-1000: More speeches, crowd was definitely motivated. Met some really nice Vietnam, Korean, and WW2 vets. They actually thanked me for showing up! Then the trucks came. Here are some more photos:
1005: Had to leave to meet friends for brunch. Walking back up Constitution Ave toward my car, I noticed that the truckers were blasting their horns as they went past the White House. Neat.
1020-1100: Was driving toward Arlington when I saw that the protest had moved towards the Reflecting Pool. As I passed the Lincoln Memorial I saw gates being torn down and protesters sprinting up the Lincoln Memorial steps with flags. Turned my car around at Arlington Cemetery, and parked at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Here is what I saw:
Ran into a few park rangers at the end of the Wall. They looked a little scared, but were very nice and courteous.
I left shortly thereafter.
- Police in riot gear were present at the Lincoln. I don't know what they were expecting, but bringing out the heavy stuff for 90 year old vets seemed excessive. Otherwise, the fuzz was out in force but let people be.
- A very nice gesture to put the pictures of the four that fell at Benghazi at the WW2 Memorial:
- The counter protesters/plants are easy to spot. They look like the people who are trying to fit in. That's the best way I can describe it.
- I saw a veteran on a segway at the top of the Lincoln Memorial stairs. He had robot legs. He later went on to do this.
- I was a little concerned when the truckers shut down the street behind the WW2 Memorial. This protest was about keeping things open, and not inconveniencing others.
- The Vietnam Veterans Wall is still the most heartbreaking memorial I have ever been to. It's a must see if you visit DC.
- Multitudes of Asians with cameras were present. They seemed a bit confused, but seemed grateful that the monuments were open.
- It occurred to me while I was leaving that the left should have been present. In all honesty, I can see why they chose not to show-the majority was pretty far to the right and there was a great deal of anti-Obama sentiment. Still, if they had shown up for the veterans it would have been nice.
- I put the numbers of the protest conservatively around 5k-7k. Was tough to tell-people were coming and going from all directions covering the area from the WW2 Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial.