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Dueling rallies in DC mark King speech anniversary
Question of the Day
His rally’s marquee speaker, Sarah Palin, praised “patriots” in the audience for “knowing never to retreat.”
The two champions of the tea party movement spoke from the very spot where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech 47 years ago. Some civil rights leaders who have denounced Beck’s choice of a venue staged a rival rally to honor King.
Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee who may make a White House run in 2012, said activists must honor King’s legacy by paying tribute to the men and women who protect the United States in uniform.
Beck, pacing back and forth on the marble steps, said he was humbled by the size of the crowd, which stretched along the Washington Mall’s long reflecting pool nearly all the way to the Washington Monument.
“Something beyond imagination is happening,” he said. “America today begins to turn back to God.”
“For too long, this country has wandered in darkness,” said Beck, a Fox News host. He said it was now time to “concentrate on the good things in America, the things we have accomplished and the things we can do tomorrow.”
Palin, greeted by chants of “USA, USA, USA” from many in the crowd, told the gathering, “It is so humbling to get to be here with you today, patriots. You who are motivated and engaged … and knowing never to retreat.”
“We must restore America and restore her honor,” said the former Alaska governor, echoing the name of the rally, “Restoring Honor.”
Palin told the crowd she wasn’t speaking as a politician. “No, something more, something much more. I’ve been asked to speak as the mother of a soldier and I am proud of that distinction. Say what you want to say about me, but I raised a combat vet and you can’t take that away from me.” It was a reference to her son, Track, 20, who served a yearlong deployment in Iraq.
Palin honored military members in her speech. She likened the rally participants to the civil rights activists who came to the National Mall to hear King’s historic speech. She said the same spirit that helped civil rights activists overcome oppression, discrimination and violence would help this group as well.
“We are worried about what we face. Sometimes, our challenges seem insurmountable,” Palin said.
“Look around you. You’re not alone,” Palin told participants.
The crowd _ organizers had a permit for 300,000 _ was vast, with people standing shoulder to shoulder across large expanses of the Mall. The National Park Service stopped doing crowd counts in 1997 after the agency was accused of underestimating numbers for the 1995 Million Man March.
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