It was a dreary day. Temperature in the low 40s, a breeze that would cut through you every now and then without warning, and cloudy skies that would offer a hint of blue beyond but nothing more.
And yet, even though it was only a few hours ago as I write this, I don't remember that unless I stop to think about it. It was such a fun, interesting, historic, and in some ways fulfilling day for me, that my mind just edits out the poor weather.
The contrast that this creates with all the awful images from the hours that followed is not lost on me. It's personally jarring. But what happened before was just as real.
My first goal of the day was to find Not The Bee member @israel. We had exchanged some messages on this platform earlier in the week and decided it would be fun if we could get together for the rally. His bus was getting in to Union Station, just north and east of the Capitol building so that's where I headed after taking the Metro (DC's subway) to a station about a mile away.
It was 10:30 AM and very quiet at the Capitol.
At first I thought the entire rally was going to be a bust. There were some people marching around, but I've seen bigger crowds at an In-N-Out grand opening.
I pulled up the schedule on my phone and realized nothing was really supposed to happen at the capital that early, save for "The Wild March" that had been permitted for I believe 250 people. I saw no marching of any kind, not even the sedate kind.
All the action at that point was going to be at The Ellipse, just south of the White House. In fact, President Trump was supposed to deliver remarks there at 11 AM.
Given the thin crowds at the Capitol, finding Israel and a friend of his who had come down with him took only a few texts. I suggested we head to The Ellipse, and off we went.
Pictures don't do the crowd justice. This one was looking up towards the Washington Monument.
It was like that in every direction there.
Trump was right on schedule. His schedule, and so about 40 minutes late. No matter, the crowd went wild. We were so close it was like we could almost... make out a vague blob if we squinted really hard.
I swear, that silhouette in front of the white tent was totally him. Probably.
As he was winding down we joined the crowd heading for the Capitol.
I suggested we cut over to "The Mall" for the views. The Mall is the main strip in DC, a grassy expanse with the Lincoln Memorial at one end, the Washington Monument in the middle, and the Capitol building at the other end.
I'd like to take a moment here to note that one of the best parts of my day was getting to meet Israel. The persona he presents here in his comments and posts, fun, interesting, thoughtful, and sincere, is no act. That's how he is in person. He's the first Not The Bee person I've met IRL, and he's set the bar pretty high! His friend was unsurprisingly, great company as well and gracious in letting me essentially crash their trip. It was truly a pleasure meeting them both.
It wasn't really until we got to the Capitol that we realized just how big this crowd was, and it kept getting bigger.
Here's a shot looking away from the Capitol towards the Washington Monument I took earlier in the day. For scale, the monument is a little over a mile from where I was standing.
And here it was around 2:30 PM.
Again, pictures never do a crowd justice, but I went to a Big 10 college football school, I know what tens of thousands of people looks like, and this was that at least.
I wanted to keep this piece mostly positive but I would like to point out some things we saw and heard that in hindsight did not bode well for later.
One was "Buffalo Guy." He's already become a meme, and given The Bee treatment.
We saw this guy, screaming all kinds of agitations when we were walking to the Capitol. Israel got this shot of him.
As we approached the Capitol another guy asked us if we knew which side the House was on. We said we didn't know for sure, and he muttered something about "we need to know which side to enter."
I said something to Israel about that being a good way to get shot. More prophetic than I had intended, and I honestly still can't believe what happened later. But, there were inklings of this while we were there.
Regardless, that was the day I had, and it was a good day, and it was the day tens of thousands of other people had.
I am not the biggest MAGA flag-waving guy, and I think powers like Big Tech and their ability to control information are threats I'd like to focus on, but the fact of the matter remains that a lot of people are very unhappy with their leaders and the political process. If the powers that be insist on continuing to ignore their issues, to belittle their culture, to call them names and demonize them, we are in big trouble as a nation.
In fact, we already are.