As in New York City, there was a huge amount of casual photography; many people had cameras and snapped pictures everywhere. This time I brought my Sony digital camera, and I took lots of pictures. The crowd wasn't very lively or diverse, though, so most of the crowd scenes look rather homogenized, with middle-class suburbanites standing around holding signs. This should not be taken negatively, though. The anti-war effort has gone from being a radical issue harped on by loud-mouthed protesters to a mainstream issue politely but firmly addressed by thousands of soccer moms, Harry Homeowners, and their kids. The one freaky scene I saw (but didn't photograph) was a group of topless women protesting the war; they attracted some attention but most people (mild-mannered and straight-as-an-arrow as they were) took a glance and walked on, slightly embarrassed and disinclined to stare.
The march itself started a couple of hours late due to the huge number of people clogging the streets. The organizers had expected 100,000 people, but later crowd estimates ran considerably higher. I have to admit it was pretty tiring standing around and waiting, but the crowd was patient and people were determined to march to the White House, no matter how long it took. The skies were overcast and at one point it started raining, but the light rain shower wasn't any trouble for the marchers and I stood under a tree until the rain stopped. Luckily, the temperatures were moderate, so nobody was going to wilt from the heat.
Once the large numbers of people at the head of the crowd managed to march out of the way, the tail end of the march (where I was) finally started to creep forward. It still took a long time to reach the White House, and by the time I got there, I was pretty pooped. No, George W. didn't come out to greet us—he was somewhere out west in a secure command bunker monitoring the progress of Hurricane Rita. But it was still important to symbolically add my voice to the growing chorus of protests against the war.
I took a short break in a park across from the White House, then resumed marching along the protest route. After the White House the pace picked up considerably—the symbolic message had been delivered and it was now time to go home. In fact, I didn't even follow the route all the way to the end; I took a shortcut to the Metro station and stopped to get a hot dog. There were other events scheduled after the march (such as a concert on the Mall and an appearance by Cindy Sheehan), but I came specifically to march so I skipped the other events.
The subway was very crowded since the march ended about the same time the book fair was closing. The platform was jammed and trains were slow to arrive. But I got back to Branch Avenue without difficulty, hopped into my car, and headed home.
I have now completed my second protest march, peacefully and earnestly. So what, why not stay home and watch it on TV? The reason I marched, and the reason hundreds of thousands of others marched today and on other days all over the world, is to convince a narrow-minded ideologue named George W. Bush that he is wrong. It will take a massive effort to convince him—after all, when asked during the last election campaign to cite a few mistakes he has made, Bush mumbled and stammered and could hardly think of a thing. He is a man who is so convinced of his moral righteousness that even the monumental waste of lives and property that is the War in Iraq still fails to convince him of his error. Once presidents become so full of themselves, and so unwilling to listen to reason, the only way to get them to act is to confront them with a massive outpouring of public sentiment from people all across the country, in all walks of life, that the war was a mistake and must be stopped. This strategy worked for the War in Vietnam, and it will work for the War in Iraq. It's a tragedy, though, that so many people have to die before George W. Bush can acknowledge his mistake.
I have five more pages of pictures, click "Next Page" to continue.
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