- Published: 05 October 2005 05 October 2005
The anti-war march held in Washington on September 24th (2005) was a microcosm of Main Street America. The faces of the people we saw and met were no different than those to be seen at the food store, church or neighborhood coffee shop. While there were a number of so-called radical groups, this was very much a middle-class event.
We arrived at the Mall two hours before the march was due to start. Rather than sit and listen to the speakers at the various rallies, we wandered on and off the Mall, going from rally to rally, photographing the signs and faces of the crowd. Two in particular stood out. One was a man of my own age, holding a sign that read "Former Air Force Transport Pilot – Will reenlist to fly the troops home Now!. The second was of a black woman holding a sign that read "No Iraqis Left Me On A Roof To Die".
When the March started off, it moved at a snail's pace. It took us about two hours to march from the Washington Monument to the front of the White House. The marchers filled not only the street, but spilled over onto both sidewalks. We were so tightly packed together, at no point was it possible to fully extend my arms in any direction without touching someone.
For whatever reason the march did not move at the same pace across the width of the street. We were in the center and at times the left side moved faster, at times the right side did so. I mention this only to reinforce the fact that we did not march with the same group of people the entire time. As the faces and signs changed, the mood, which was for the most part, somber and serious, did not. There was no leadership that we saw. Someone would start a chant and those around would (or would not) continue the refrain for a few moments, until silence gave way once again to another chant. The crowd favorite was "this is what democracy looks like".
For those who attended this march and had the opportunity to watch the local and Cable news coverage that evening and compared what they experienced to what was reported, there could be little doubt that there is no such thing as the "Liberal Media". The televised media gave equal coverage to the anti-war march and to the pro-war bystanders. Equal time for a march that drew between 100,000 to 300,000 people, compared to a pro-war contingent of 200 (their numbers looked closer to 50 to this observer). Yes, both sides must be heard, but imagine how silly ESPN would look if they decided to devote equal amounts of air time to the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals in an effort to be fair and balanced.
I would be remiss without tipping my hat to the DC police whose presence at the march was almost non-existant. Whoever made the decision to let the day proceed "as is", could not have shown better judgement in his fellow citizens. The one "confrontation" I saw (an attempt by 4 police cars to force their way through a crowd of several hundred that occured prior to the march itself), ended when the police decided the best course of action was to pull back. As this 10 minute confrontation ended, I was photographing a man who was sitting on the bumper of the lead police car and I through my camera saw an officer walking towards me. As I lowered the camera and stepped aside, we made eye contact and he said "Thank You". To which I responded "You're Welcome".
September 24th was a day of peaceful protest for all concerned.