Glenn Beck's 8/28 rally delivered a swift kick in the rear to anyone who claims he or the conservative grassroots movement is irrelevant or idle.
"Welcome to Restoring Honor. You are standing on the banks of greatness, the banks of American dreams," said Beck, during his initial remarks. "America is a land of opportunity."
Beck's opening salvo set the tune for the rest of the day, which focused on the founding fathers, with a heavy dose of religious reverence and military pride. Somewhere in the ballpark of 500,000 followers crowded the space between the Lincoln and Washington monuments, dwarfing Beck's original estimate of 100,000 people. During the 3 1/2 hour spectacular, there were no long polemics about the follies of the Obama administration or evaluations of our ongoing economic despair. Instead, there were awards: for baseball player Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals, who was honored for his dedication to his family, to God, and to his charity as a role model to his community; and also for Tom Kirk, an Air Force squadron commander, who spent time in the Hanoi Hilton with Sen. John McCain.
"Something beyond imagination is happening. Something that is beyond man is happening. America today begins to turn back to God," said Beck. "For too long, this country has wandered in darkness and we have wandered in darkness in periods from the beginning. We have had moments of brilliance, and moments of darkness, but this country has spend far too long worrying about scars...today we are going to focus on good things in America."
Sarah Palin was a headlining speaker, and Beck played up her credentials as a mother instead of as a conservative political force. Regardless of whether Palin is even able to avoid politicizing an issue given her activism and personality, she did manage to avoid any sort of policy discussion by focusing on military achievements from her family and from other families across the U.S.
"Say what you want to say about me, but I raised a combat vet, and you can't take that away from me," said Palin. "I'm proud of that distinction, but it is not one that I had imagined, because no woman gives birth thinking that she will hand over her child to her country. But that's what mothers have done, from ancient days."
Palin, along with a host of other speakers, largely upheld Beck's initial mantra of faith, hope, and honor. Justice Raul Gonzalez, retired from the Texas Supreme Court, awarded the Badge of Merit for Charity to Jon Huntsman, the Utah businessman philanthropist.