The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear came about shortly after Glenn Beck held a rally in Washington, D.C. It was called the Restoring Honor Rally, and it was held in August of this year. Soon after Glenn Beck's event, Stewart and Colbert announced on their respective shows that they would be holding events of their own. First, Stewart comedically announced on The Daily Show that he would make a big announcement at some point in the near or not-so-near future. Then, Colbert "counterannounced" on The Colbert Report that if Jon Stewart made an announcement he would announce something even bigger and more important. The banter flew back and forth - and the two men constantly tried to one-up each other - until Stewart finally announced his Rally to Restore Sanity. True to his word, Colbert then announced that he was going to hold the March to Keep Fear Alive. Both events were scheduled to take place on the National Mall on the same date at the same time. The goal of Stewart's Rally seemed to be to bring together Americans who were sick and tired of the extremist politics reported in the news media. It was meant to be a "million moderate march." On the other hand, Colbert's March seemed to have the opposite goal - to help the news media to propagate fear in the American people by supporting extremism. Colbert's March was certainly meant to be seen as hyperbolic and was, of course, a satire/parody of Glenn Beck's Rally.
As weeks of Stewart's and Colbert's shows passed, it became more and more clear that the two men intended all along to combine their events. Colbert eventually announced that he had forgotten to get a permit for his March, so he appeared as a guest on Stewart's show to beg Stewart to add his name to the permit for the Rally to Restore Sanity. Stewart obviously agreed to do so, and because the two events were to be held in the same location on the same date at the same time and because Colbert's name had supposedly been added to Stewart's permit, the Rally to Restore Sanity and the March to Keep Fear Alive became the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Both Stewart and Colbert updated the public via Twitter and facebook in addition to using The Daily Show's Web site and The Colbert Report's Web site. There are also other sites where you can find information about the Rally. Additionally, there is a free application for the iPhone and Android phones.
Stewart and Colbert both chose a charity to tie to their respective events - Stewart chose the Trust for the National Mall, and Colbert chose a charity whose Web site helps to connect individual donors to teachers and classrooms so that the donors may give to classroom projects that help students learn.
On the night when the Rally and the March were announced separately, Mr._C. and I quickly decided that we'd be going to Washington, D.C. We're both fans of Stewart's and Colbert's shows, and we figured that this would end up being a relatively historic event that we wanted to be a part of. We followed the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear online via Twitter and facebook and knew that there would be at least tens of thousands of people attending. The attendance estimate after the Rally ended up being over 200,000 people.
My friend, SweetRoisinDubh, planned on attending the Rally and lives in the D.C. Metro area. She invited Mr._C. and I to drive down on Friday night before the Rally and stay overnight at her place. We would head into the city on Saturday morning, and the Rally was to be held from 12-3 P.M. that day. On Friday night after Mr._C. got home from work, we packed a bag and headed for SweetRoisinDubh's place. We arrived around 11:00 P.M. on Friday night, and we met SweetRoisinDubh's friend, B. In the morning, the four of us would venture into the city.
The morning of the Rally finally arrived. Mr._C., SweetRoisinDubh, B, and I left SweetRoisinDubh's place and walked to the guest parking area to pile into one vehicle and find a nearby Metro station. But when we entered the guest parking lot, neither B's car nor mine was to be seen. We had been towed because we didn't have parking permits!!! We found the phone number for the towing company and called to get the address. Then, the four of us packed into SweetRoisinDubh's car and went to get the two vehicles from the towing company's impound lot. It was frustrating for us, but luckily, the events of the morning did not ruin our day. Once we made it to a Metro station, we were in better spirits and rode the yellow line into the city.
We got off the Metro in Washington, D.C., and we walked several blocks to the National Mall, the site of the Rally. Mr._C. and I stopped to use the bathroom, and SweetRoisinDubh and B continued on without us. We were separated for the rest of the day and couldn't find each other. There were so many people on the National Mall, and cell phones didn't work well - I couldn't send text messages or call anybody, even Mr._C. So many people must have been using their cell phones, and it seems as if the cell phone towers in the area just could not handle it. Mr._C. and I figured that SweetRoisinDubh and B were in the same situation and couldn't use their phones either. So Mr._C. and I walked around for a few minutes and checked out people's signs. We saw several SF-appropriate signs. Two similar-looking signs said, "UP WITH BOOBIES," and, "DOWN WITH PANTIES," LOL. We also saw some people with a big sign that said, "JUMP ROPE WITH A MUSLIM," and they had a jump rope and everything. Mr._C. and I found a place to stand, and we waited for the Rally to start. The National Mall was packed with people from the Capitol to the Washington Monument. There were Jumbotron screens in several places on the Mall, and at the end of the Mall closest to the Capitol, there was a stage, and the stage was framed in such a way that the picture frame border also framed the Capitol in the background. Before the Rally began, the Jumbotrons entertained the gathering crowd with games and video clips of the events on Stewart's and Colbert's shows that led up to the Rally (the dueling important announcements, Colbert begging Stewart to add his name to Stewart's permit, etc.).
Finally, the Rally began. Stewart made his entrance to his show's theme song, and there was banter between Stewart and Colbert while Colbert reported from his "fear bunker" beneath the earth under the stage. Following Stewart's reassurance that people did, in fact, show up to the Rally - since Colbert's fear was that nobody had decided to come, haha - Colbert made his entrance to his show's theme song in a capsule like the one(s) used to rescue the Chilean miners a couple of weeks before. He wore an Evel Knievel-like, stars and stripes jumpsuit. Correspondents from The Daily Show were at the Rally as well and reported from the crowd. Stewart and Colbert introduced The Roots, and soon, John Legend joined The Roots on the stage. Then, actor Don Novello made an appearance as Father Guido Sarducci, a character who has appeared on Saturday Night Live, and gave a comedic benediction speech. Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, the hosts of Mythbusters, made an appearance and had the huge crowd do the wave. They also had the whole crowd jump at once to try to create some seismic activity. (The crowd created a seismic wave 100 times more powerful than a car crashing into a brick wall at 35 MPH!) Cat Stevens and Ozzy Osbourne sang dueling "train" songs (Cat Stevens' "Peace Train" and Ozzy's "Crazy Train"). Cat Stevens represented Stewart's point of view, and Ozzy represented Colbert's point of view. They played at the same time until neither song was discernible. As a compromise, The O'Jays took the stage to sing "Love Train" (and here is a video clip of the performances at the Rally). Other musical guests included Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock singing a song with T.I. (via video feed), Jeff Tweedy and Mavis Staples, 4Troops singing The Star-Spangled Banner, and Tony Bennett singing America the Beautiful. Actor Sam Waterson (from Law & Order) made an appearance to read Colbert's poem entitled "Are you sure?" (otherwise called "the greatest poem ever written," haha). Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made an appearance as well. Stewart awarded bronze "Medals of Reasonableness" to Mick Foley (the wrestling superstar) and Velma Hart, a black woman who recently asked President Obama some tough - but reasonable - questions at a town hall meeting. Colbert awarded "Medals of Fear" to Mark Zuckerberg (the founder of facebook) and Anderson Cooper (a news pundit and the host of AC360). Stewart and Colbert sang a duet and held a (silly) debate in a segment called "Formidable Opponent," which is a regular segment on Colbert's show in which he typically argues with himself. At the end of the Rally, Stewart became sincere and made a speech about why we were all there and his intentions for the Rally. He said, "We live now in hard times, not end times," and explained that we certainly should have fears - but that the country's system for determining which fears are legitimate is broken. He also said, "If we amplify everything, we hear nothing," and talked about how the news media currently amplifies everything and makes it difficult for Americans to determine what we should listen to. He said that we need to be able to distinguish genuine racists from Tea Partiers and genuine terrorists from Muslims and that small groups of extremists who are Tea Party members or Muslims don't represent the entirety of either group of people. He stated that the reflection of America that we receive through the news media is "us through a funhouse mirror," not Americans as we truly are. He said that - even though Congress doesn't work together to get things done - "[Americans] work together to get things done every damn day." He said to the crowd, "If you want to know why I'm here and what I want from you, I can only assure you [of] this - you have already given it to me. Your presence was what I wanted." It really was a wonderful speech - moving and genuine.
There was a press conference following the Rally, and you can watch it here. You can also check out photos from the Rally here. You can see some aerial photos here.
Overall, Mr._C. and I were so happy we went and were able to be part of this event. We had such a good time. The whole day was lovely - the weather was sunny (even if a bit on the chilly side at times), and people in general were very polite and just nice to each other. We heard a lot of "please"s, "thank you"s, "excuse me"s, and "I'm sorry"s all day. Everybody Mr._C. and I met was civil and just wanted to have a good time - just like us. The whole day was full of dancing and clapping and laughter, and there were literally people of all ages there - from babies to grandparents. I would say that the Rally was a smashing success. This really was my generation's version of Woodstock (albeit much more tame and family-friendly, LOL), and I'm proud to be able to say that I was there to share the good vibes with my fellow Americans.
My pictures are too big for me to upload them here, so you can find them in my thread about the Rally by clicking here. The pictures are contained in post #26.
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