Monday, September 12, 2005

The "March"

The Pentagon had it's much ballyhooed "Freedom March" yesterday to commemorate 9/11 (and pump up support for the war). It was billed as being attended by "thousands" and a march to support the troops. As Rummy would say, "one" has to conclude that it was a government staged event to rally support for the Presid.....ah......troops.

Indeed, the event received some front page media coverage. But some astute observers are asking, was it really a success?

Remember this?
A "Freedom Walk" on Sunday in honor of the military, from the Pentagon to the Washington Mall, is open only to those pre-registered - and the U.S. Park Police has warned that it will arrest anyone who shows up without a pass.
Hmmm. A freedom walk where you're arrested if you're not registered. How in the world will they attract people to such a march (via Steve Clemon)?
The voice mail [from the secretary of commerce ] went something like this:
Dear Comrade Smith:

As we commemorate those who perished four years ago on September 11th and fell before those who would try and steal our freedom, I encourage you to march to help keep this nation free, to honor those fighting for freedom in Iraq, those trying to preserve the way of life of our great nation.

A great way to show your love of this great nation and to make your claim that freedom matters, I strongly encourage you [emphasis added], Comrade, to Walk for Freedom on Sunday, September 11th at the Pentagon.
Ok. . .I inserted the references to "Comrade" and used an alias for Mr. Smith.
How about pedestrians curious about the crowd?
Security was intense. The parade route appeared to be completely sealed off to all vehicles and even pedestrians who had not registered with the Department of Defense by last Friday afternoon. The concert was walled off from the rest of the mall by fences
Ok, how about this? After all, honoring the troops is a patriotic thing to do:
Notice once again the lack of an aerial photo from the event? Of the 15,000 who registered, the Times only said "thousands" actually participated. Sounds like a massive turnout for freedom, Bush style.
No pictures of the crowd, numbers aren't clear. Arrested if not registered. Hmmm. Well, at least it must of been a mix of people with differing opinions, lots of variety, you know, the American way...right?
One man who registered for the walk was detained by a Pentagon police officer after he slipped a black hood over his head and produced a sign that read, "Freedom?"

The man was removed from the Pentagon registration area, handcuffed and taken away in a police car. It was not clear whether he was charged or simply detained and the police did not respond to messages requesting more information.

Ann Grossman, 56, from Silver Spring, Md., also carried a homemade sign, which read "Honor Our Troops, Respect Their Lives," that was confiscated by police at the Pentagon.
Well surely, being a memorial for those killed in 9/11, and a not so veiled tribute to the troops in Iraq, it was a grassroots event. Right?
Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in the crowd. I asked him who was paying for the whole thing. "I think it is the sponsors on the back of this T-shirt," he said, referring to the Freedom Walk shirts. The back of the shirts listed Clint Black (presumably not a sponsor), McDonalds, the Pentagon Channel, Stars and Stripes, Lockheed Martin, The Washington Times, Subway Restaurants, America Online, local radio stations, and others
Well, maybe it's such a regular occurence that turnout was surpressed:
Another marcher, Terry Murtaugh, from Burke, Va., said he was glad to have come. "I think it is a proactive way to observe the day and demonstrate solidarity with those who have lost their lives," he said.

But Murtaugh said he does not remember the last time a government agency organized a march and concert to support its own employees. "It is unusual," he said.
Hmmmm. Sounds like the thing was run like the aid to victims of Katrina.

It'll be interesting to see the anti-war turnout in Washington, 9/24.


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