In the aftermath of Saturday’s Restoring Honor and Reclaiming the Dream rallies in Washington, D.C., attendees reflect on the messages presented and what they think the impact will be, if any.
One nation under God?
Glenn Beck, alongside several conservative figures and Tea Party members, focused on the country’s need to return to its core foundation. That foundation, according to the TV personality, hinges on religion. Beck, who promised to avoid political commentary, instead spoke of how the nation needs to turn to God.
Religion is an important issue for Joan Barker, 58, who traveled to the Restoring Honor rally from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“We are a God loving country, and we need God’s help,” Barker said.
For Barker, the most memorable part of the day occurred in the closing moments of Beck’s speech, when the crowd joined together for a closing prayer and rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
“It was very inspiring, very Christian and very all-American,” Barker said.
Others expressed strong opinions to the contrary, as participants and protestors from both camps mingled at the Lincoln Memorial mid-afternoon.
“I’m here to kind of counter what’s going on…[Restoring Honor attendees] are using things like religion and fear to exploit us” said Andrew Palos, 20, of Northwest Washington, D.C.
According to Palos, the rally showed a division between those who support President Obama and those who oppose him.
“I like the guy in the White House,” Palos said. “I think he’s doing a good job. I think this is all backlash toward that guy.”
Despite the rally taking place on the same steps on which Martin Luther King Jr. stood when he delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, Barker said the rally in no way slighted King’s movement.
“Not at all–this was very much about Martin Luther King and the dream,” Barker said.
Palos, on the other hand, saw the rally as an act of degradation toward many people. “I think it’s an absolute shame that on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, we have a right wing, political pundit being a demagogue to thousands of people in our nation’s capitol,” Palos said.
Barker decided to attend the Restoring Honor rally “as soon as they announced it,” she said. As far as its impact, she hopes the rally will draw more awareness to the conservative cause and “that more people will vote,” she said.
Others think that the rally will be less consequential.
“I don’t think it will affect elections because everyone will go in with their own perspective,” said Alison S., 48, of California, who attended the Restoring Honor rally.
Many attendees felt that their point of view fell on deaf ears. While camaraderie was high among common rally participants, Palos says he was “not at all successful” in getting his message across to anyone other than those who already shared the same feelings.
“There was no way of having discourse with the people who disagreed with me, no way whatsoever,” Palos said.
-Photos and reporting by Carrie Mccloud and Lauren Pritchard