Monday, September 12, 2005

And One Final Commemorative Concert

I'd be remiss in not noting this weekend's Freedom March in Washington DC, to commorate September 11, 2001, and more specifically the lives lost at the Pentagon. The LATimes includes coverage of it along with other commemorative events from yesterday:

At the Pentagon, several thousand people participated in a Defense Department-sponsored walk that was part Sept. 11 tribute and part rally for U.S. troops. Antiwar groups had decried the so-called Freedom Walk as a cynical exercise by the Bush administration to shore up sagging support for the war in Iraq. But the event drew few protesters, in part because security was tight and because people had to register in advance to participate.

In a parking lot that was the staging area for the walk, the crowd sang "God Bless America" and observed a moment of silence. Then it began the 1.7-mile walk that went past signature monuments, including Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial.

Officials estimated that the event drew about 10,000 people, including veterans and families of servicemen and servicewomen, many pushing baby carriages and wearing red-white-and-blue T-shirts. The walk finished at the National Mall, where there was a concert by country music singer Clint Black, who in 2003 recorded the pro-military song "I Raq and I Roll."

In brief remarks, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld paid tribute to families of Sept. 11 victims and hospitalized troops: "This is the first march for freedom, and looking at the size of this crowd, I suppose it will not be the last one."

Hmmm. At 10,000-or-so strong, I'm not quite sure we'll be seeing this event again. Americablog paints an even bleaker picture of attendance and includes pictures. And Salon's War Room comments on the guesstimates from several news reporting sources of several thousand to 10 thousand participants:

All of which is French for "not very many." A big Washington rally draws hundreds of thousands of people: The Million Man March did 10 years ago, and the March for Women's Lives did last spring. And hundreds of thousands turn out for a presidential inauguration.

An antiwar protest on the National Mall in January 2003 drew at least 30,000 and maybe many, many more. That was back when a majority of Americans still approved of the way George W. Bush was handling things in Iraq. In a Newsweek poll released this weekend, 60 percent of Americans say they disapprove of the president's handling of Iraq; only 36 percent say they approve. That's not to say that those 60 percent don't support the troops. They just might have a better way of showing it than turning out for a Pentagon-sponsored celebration built around a link between the war and 9/11 that simply doesn't exist.


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