“America today begins to turn back to God”
I’ve been too ill recently to watch too much news, so I completely missed the coverage of Glenn Beck’s rally on the Washington Mall. Fortunately, Robert Costa of National Review was among the 100,000 to 300,000 people in attendance.
In a surprise appearance at the FreedomWorks conference in Washington on Friday, Beck had explained why he decided to spearhead what was, in many respects, an ecumenical revival. “My role, as I see it, is to wake America up to the backsliding of principles and values and most of all of God,” he told the assembled conservative activists. “We are a country of God. As I look at the problems in our country, quite honestly, I think the hot breath of destruction is breathing on our necks and to fix it politically is a figure that I don’t see anywhere.”
The following morning, as Beck’s event opened, soft piano notes swelled from gargantuan loudspeakers as images of America — purple mountains’ majesty, oceans white with foam — slowly streamed across the high-definition video screens positioned around the Memorial grounds. Then, to a great roar, Beck took the stage. “Something that is beyond man is happening,” he said, his voice echoing all the way to the Washington Monument. “America today begins to turn back to God.”
Beck’s opening theme, calling the assembled to embrace God and remember the traditional, foundational values of the country, was carried on by the ensuing speakers. Calls for unity and inspiration were ubiquitous, interspersed with history lessons, personal testimonials, sermons, and a bit of country music — John Rich and others performed. “For too long, this country has wandered in darkness,” Beck said, gazing out toward the reflecting pool. “This country has spent far too long worrying about scars and thinking about scars and concentrating on scars. Today, we are going to concentrate on the good things in America, the things that we have accomplished, and the things that we can do tomorrow.”
Beck’s healing message also included numerous citations of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the site 47 years ago to the day. Dr. Alveda King, a niece of the civil-rights activist, was a featured speaker. Palin, the former governor of Alaska, also addressed King’s legacy. “You have the same steel spine and moral courage as Washington and Lincoln and Martin Luther King,” she told the crowd. “It will sustain you, as it sustained them.”
I listened briefly to Beck the other day on the radio explain how the date was picked. Beck’s people tried to get one date, but this was the only date that was open. I’m not sure if I believe him. However, to get that many people to show up on an extremely hot day in August in Washington D.C. (the fetid swamp built on a fetid swamp) is pretty impressive.
Fred Dooley of Real Debate Wisconsin has a picture of the crowd. He estimates 87 people were there (tongue in cheek, of course).Reminds me of a joke my wife, the Lovely Doreen from Waukesha, said when we visited the Lincoln Memorial last year. “Could everyone please move a little bit to the left? Just for a moment while I take this photo. Thanks!”