Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Once more to the Pentagon

Peace marches finally seem to warrant advanced coverage from the newspapers. Oh I'm sure the television media will completely ignore this - other than CSpan - but the papers are covering it. So somehow, somewhere, there will be a record that it happened.

In January, I actually climbed onto a bus myself, and rode all the way to Washington D.C. for the Peace Rally on the National Mall (and then the march around the Capitol building.) It was my first march... since I was a little kid, anyway, and I tagged along behind my parents at Vietnam peace rallies.

It all comes back around again. Every generation gets to march, sometimes more than once in a lifetime.

As I recall, there wasn't a lot of news coverage about the actual march - not nearly as much as I read in advance of today's march to the Pentagon. So maybe this one will be bigger. Maybe the media is paying attention now. Maybe...

And so tonight my thoughts go out to those who made the trek to Washington for the March to the Pentagon. And I find myself thinking back on my own trip to Washington to confront my government:

This is the first time I've ever done this. I climbed onto a bus from Indiana (16 hours each way) to attend the massive peace march in Washington D.C this Saturday. Like many other average Americans... it has simply gotten to the point where phone calls, petitions and letters feel useless. I knew I had to go that extra mile this time, because no one was really listening.

I couldn't believe how large the crowd was by the time of the rally - it stretched as far as the eye could see in every direction, and still more people kept pouring in. It was massive. People were climbing trees, trying to photograph the crowd from above, and they were shouting down that it appeared we packed the entire mall - and stretched back as far as the Washington Monument.

From the ground, it was impossible to say how many people were there. I do know that it took over 3 hours to march around the Capitol building, and that it was hard to maintain a constant forward movement as we carried our community banner through the sea of churning, chanting humanity (and so many creative signs!)

As I walked by Federal buildings gleaming in the sunlight, I had the oddest sensation... I thought to myself 'so this is what democracy really feels like.' I knew Congress saw us this time. It was wonderful to finally feel like I was making a difference. Our media, and yes our government, go out of their way to make us feel trivial and insignificant. But when we come together, we have teeth.

Saturday night, I walked over to the Lincoln Memorial while waiting for our buses to arrive.

I stood for a long time looking up at 'Father Abraham,' and felt very, very sad... sad to the core of my soul. I wondered what he would think if he could see the state of our country today. I was pretty sure I knew.

I read the words on the wall:

"...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

I'm not ashamed to say that my eyes filled with tears.

We are but a shell of that dream, that nation. Its heartbreaking, really. I talked to Lincoln for a few minutes, then turned and walked out into the night. He remains there, staring out of his temple, towards the Capitol building. Watching them.

I wonder, this time... in the wake of the march, how much media coverage will it receive? Will anyone admit that it occurred? If there are half a million, will the media once again say 'tens of thousands?'

If it doesn't - cannot - register as a wave of righteous, citizen outrage... will it perhaps make at least a modest, quiet splash on the Washington political scene?

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