This Labor Day weekend, Washington DC might seem quiet. But one week ago, the city was alive as hundreds of thousands of Americans descended upon the city for the Restoring Honor rally. One could say that Glenn Beck was like a stimulus package to the tourism industry of DC. But this rally was no mere celebration. The Restoring Honor rally focused on calling for a return to the traditional values of the founding of the United States of America. Faith, Hope, and Charity, Beck’s stated principles were the values which he claimed would be at the center of bringing America out of these tough times and back to a shining city on the hill. Yet these values are not to be used by the government to help the downtrodden, but by the people who do so out of the strength of their own character. It is their honor.
Awards were given to people for their achievements in the three areas. The recipient for Faith was Pastor CL Jackson, who was present at the “I Have a Dream” Speech 47 years ago to the day. For Hope, it was St. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols who glowingly described how his Christian faith had an impact on not only his career but on his community service activities. And for Charity, it was John Huntsman Sr., a billionaire who began the state-of-the-art Hunstman Cancer Institute with his wealth and has participated in various other philanthropic endeavors. These were people who were proud to sacrifice both time and money to help others. Beck displayed his own charity in his efforts at the rally to promote the Special Operations Warriors Foundation, an organization which provides aid to the families of fallen special operations troops; an under-appreciated demographic in the military when it comes to public charity. Through Beck’s actions with the Restoring Honor rally , he raised over 5 million dollars for the foundation which pledges to put the children of the fallen special operations soldiers through college.
Despite the uplifting nature of the rally, there are always critics. Before the rally even began, Beck’s detractors painted it as a political affair which would stomp on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech on its 47th anniversary. Not only was it on the anniversary, but Beck’s rally was at the exact same location; the Lincoln Memorial. Whatever his intentions were, Beck certainly provided plenty of fodder for his enemies. But actions speak louder than words and the proceedings ran in contradiction to the conspiracy theories. Former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee, Sarah Palin honored several veterans as a mother of one. If that is considered to be too political, then the state of the First Amendment is a sad one. The names Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid, or even George W. Bush were never even uttered.
As for the demographics of the rally, the Washington Post firmly declared that they were “overwhelmingly white.” There were people of all races there, but it is undeniable that they were a minority amongst hundreds of thousands of attendees (or thousands if you follow MSNBC’s reporting) However, what is disturbing is that these critics seem to believe that the credibility of the message conveyed by these people is inextricably linked to the race of the messenger. It couldn’t have mattered less that the loudest conservative voice of the event was King’s own niece, Dr. Alveda King. Christianity was also a heavily expressed theme which received just as much criticism in the press.
This rally was unlike anything our generation has seen before. The meanings, implications, and First amendment debates will continue on. Whether Glenn Beck “restored honor” or not is something to be debated years from now when the repercussions of the current administration’s policies and the public’s reaction is truly realized. But no one can deny that this was an event which will be remembered for many years to come.