Monday, 30 August 2010

Hundreds of Thousands Flock to DC for Beck's Restoring Honor Rally

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Glenn Beck’s August 28 Restoring Honor rally at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial confirmed that oft-used infamous quote from Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” And after Beck worked tirelessly for the past year to create the awe-inspiring event, come they surely did! While there is no official estimate on the number of attendees of the D.C. rally as of yet, estimates range from 300,000 to 1 million people.

As promised, the event was non-political and instead focused on remembering America’s roots, and honoring worthy individuals, from members of the United States military to individuals who prove the case for American exceptionalism. Likewise, Restoring Honor was intended to help Americans turn back to God for answers, and has the potential to be the next Great Awakening.

With a variety of references to the Bible, and specifically to Moses and the burning bush, Beck proclaimed, “God is the answer. He always has been.”

Beck began by declaring that Americans have focused for too long on their country's scars and blemishes, and asserted that August 28 would be about focusing on all the good that Americans have accomplished.

With that, American military heroes such as Marcus Luttrell, sole survivor of a Taliban ambush, Eddie Wright, a Marine who lost his hands in Iraq but managed to lead his men to safety, and Thomas Kirk, Korean and Vietnam War veteran who spent five and a half years in a POW camp, two of which were spent with McCain, were honored for their efforts. Each man received a thoughtful and heartwarming introduction from Alaska’s former governor Sarah Palin, who appeared at the event as nothing more than a military mom.

In addition to the military, individuals who espoused honorific characteristics were paid tribute at the event. Beck contends, “To restore America, we must restore ourselves. The way to do that is through faith, hope, and charity.” As such, Beck awarded three individuals with merit badges, or purple hearts in keeping with the tradition set by General George Washington during America's War of Independence — one for faith, one for hope, and one for charity.

The recipient of the “Faith” award was Pastor C. L. Jackson, who has worked diligently in his community to spread God’s word and exemplify the teachings of the Bible.

A surprise guest appearance was made by St. Louis Cardinals’ manager Tony LaRussa, who presented the purple heart of “Hope” to St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, who has helped to restore the hope of many through his charitable contributions, both in the United States and his native home of the Dominican Republic.

Justice Raul Gonzalez presented the “Charity” purple heart to John Huntsman, Sr., a philanthropist and self-made billionaire who has donated more than $9 billion to charity and vows to “die broke” after having donated all of his wealth to worthy causes. Among the many organizations that have benefited from Huntsman’s charitable contributions are shelters for the homeless and for battered women, as well as the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Beck faced harsh criticism from liberal and civil rights groups for having hosted the event on August 28, the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech that took place only steps away from where Beck stood at the event. While Beck contends it was unintentional to choose the anniversary of MLK’s speech as the date of the event, he asserts it was “Divine Providence.” At the rally, Beck focused on the language of MLK’s speech and announced, “We must all carry MLK’s dream in all our hearts today.”

On Sunday, Beck was interviewed by Fox News host Chris Wallace, who questioned his focus on MLK. Beck explained that he wanted to reclaim King’s dream for ”people of faith,” regardless of color, race, or ethnicity. Beck asserted that the dream has not yet been achieved, noting examples of racism seen today such as the recent video footage of Black Panther voter intimidation and racially motivated decisions made by the Department of Justice. Beck proclaimed that if Americans put aside politics and focused on the dream itself, the nation would be a better place.

Matthews noted, however, that the civil rights movement under MLK was in fact political, and often placed economic demands on the government, but Beck said, “I am not Martin Luther King and do not agree with all that he stood for. I simply believe that the one thing we can agree on is that MLK’s dream is both ideal and achievable.”

Despite Beck’s positive and unifying message, civil rights leader Al Sharpton railed against Beck’s rally, electing to host a rally of his own on the same day, entitled “Reclaiming the Dream.” Sharpton’s rally was attended by approximately 3,000 people.

Other notable moments at Beck’s Restoring Honor rally included an appearance by Martin Luther King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King.

“It’s wonderful for Glenn Beck to use his popularity and influence to bring us together,” announced King.

Likewise, attendees were regaled with patriotic and spiritual songs such as “Unity,” “Rebuild,” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the James Weldon Johnson poem set to music.

However, nothing was more moving and spiritually lifting than hearing nearly one million people sing “Amazing Grace.”

Beck closed the event with a charismatic speech that likely instilled hope in every attendee at the rally. Describing American exceptionalism, he explained, “The American experiment is the idea that man can rule himself.” Noting, however, the dangers plaguing the American experiment, Beck asserted the importance of fighting for the Republic. He proclaimed, “The American experiment shall not end now or in my generation or your generation! It is up to us!”

He closed, “We are at a crossroads today. We must decide who we are. What is it we believe? Will we advance our Republic or allow it to perish? I choose advance!”

In order to advance, however, Beck instructed Americans to do the following: Look to God, accept responsibility, stop allowing themselves to be divided, and pledge their sacred honor always to tell the truth.

“The truth will make you miserable first, but then will set you free,” he joked.

He emphasized, “America is only what we choose her to be. We must be good so she can be great.”

Overall, the rally was another major success for Beck, serving as a source of encouragement and hope for Americans across the nation. Beck called upon Americans to remember the foundations of America and the Christian tenets on which the American dream is based, specifically faith, hope, and charity.

Most importantly, the Restoring Honor rally managed to raise $5.5 million for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, an organization that funds the college education of the children offallen special operationswarriors.

Shortly after the rally’s conclusion, conservative blogsters feverishly spoke of a possible “Beck-Palin 2012” ticket, but to the dismay of Beck fans across the country, Beck quickly put those speculations to rest.

“Absolutely not,” he later told Chris Matthews.

Editor's note: We have changed the original title of this article from “Nearly a Million Flock to DC for Beck's Restoring Honor Rally” to “Hundreds of Thousands ...” to take into account the broader spectrum of initially reported estimates.

Photo: Glenn Beck speaks at the "Restoring Honor" rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Aug. 28, 2010: AP Images

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