On August 28, a multitude gathered around the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. for Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally, which raised more than $5 million dollars for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The speakers included representatives from SOWF, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Dr. Alveda King and Marcus Luttrell. Pastor Paul Jehle and Dan Roever delivered the opening and closing prayers.
Since there is no shortage of opinion circulating about the Restoring Honor Rally, I wanted to offer a view straight from those who participated. L.T. and Tina Bowens traveled from Oklahoma to attend the rally. Tina is a Captain in the U.S. Army and L.T. attends Oral Roberts University while caring for their daughter at home. This is their experience.
1. What motivated you to attend the rally?
Tina: I have been listening to Glenn Beck for a while and the message of the event was appealing. I wanted to participate—to take a stand for the realization that a spiritual awakening will be necessary for America to regain honor.
L.T.: I was really motivated by Tina.
2. What was most significant about the experience for you?
Tina: The closing speech by Glenn when he said, “God is not done with you yet, he is not done with man’s freedom yet.” This was significant because although our country hasn’t been perfect, we have done many things well. We have a firm foundation to draw from as we look to the future. We have the freedom to choose. Individually we must get our own lives in order, turn to God.
L.T.: Several people said, “I’m glad you’re here.” One older man said, “I wish more of you could be here.” I believe he was expressing that he really wished people knew they are not racist and they want to be united. (L.T. is African-American.) Anyone can have an impact and make a difference if we make the decision to do so. God is not done with you; he is not done with man’s freedom. The presentation was genuine. I appreciated the lengths they went to and the effort they made to be inclusive. I especially liked the definition of honor that I heard: Honor is keeping your promises.
3. What was most disappointing about the experience for you?
Tina: I lament the pervasive deception that prevented more people of different ethnicities from attending the event in greater numbers. So many have been told outright lies about Glenn Beck and the people who were to attend the rally. Actually, it just saddens me that we’re not able to penetrate the deception and reach more people with the truth, yet. One other aspect that was disappointing was the looks of disdain from protest groups. That made me uncomfortable.
L.T.: As a believer in Christ, while I appreciate the idea of being unified, I do have a concern that people could miss being unified in Christ.
4. What types of comments did you hear from people who attended the rally?
Tina: The sharing of ideas, encouraging one another toward civic involvement, people getting to know each other in conversation.
L.T.: Concern for their country, concern over people being oblivious to what is going on in the country, “we’re not going away—it doesn’t end at this event,” the agenda of the Obama administration, loss of freedoms.
5. How would you describe the composite of people in attendance?
Tina: A great mix of ages, vocations, families, retired folks, veterans, and community groups.
L.T.: Most of the people seemed to be middle to upper income, business owners, but there were young families too. Mostly Caucasian, maybe 8-10 percent people of color, various ages, but a lot of 50+ in the crowd.
6. The theme of the rally was restoring honor in America. Did you walk away with a clear understanding as to how to do that (the solution), or was the focus more about the lack of honor in America (the problem)?
Tina: The problem of the decline of honor in America was acknowledged, but there was more of a focus on the responsibility of the individual to put themselves on God’s side. The military was an example of honorable behavior. People were encouraged to emulate the courage and honor displayed by our military personnel in our own lives. We were encouraged by the awards for Faith, Hope, and Charity, and hearing their stories. Dr. Alveda King talked about focusing on character rather than skin color. There was a 40-day challenge issued for each person to turn back to God (prayer); sacrifice for one another, our children, and our future; being honorable in your own life by getting the lies out of your life—stop lying to others or yourself.
L.T.: For me, it is to keep my promises. During the song Amazing Grace, I thought of the verse, I was blind, but now I see. Even though saved, I can still be blind to certain things or issues. When we depend on ourselves, we can be blinded, when we depend on God, we see more clearly. We must be oriented toward God.
7. Was there a particular speech that was especially stirring?
Tina: Alveda King’s speech and Native American pastor, Dr. Negiel Bigpond, who introduced C.L. Jackson. He spoke about the need for all people to hear the gospel of Christ, for Native Americans to come off the reservations to impact their community and no longer be isolated.
L.T.: Glenn Beck’s concluding speech when he talked about the “giants” of history (Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King). Alveda King’s speech: She thanked Glenn for putting together a rally that focuses on the content of a person’s character rather than the color of their skin. To be united as the human race. She ended her speech encouraging people to repent from racism. I feel like people also need to repent for unforgiveness toward those who have been racist toward them.
[Beaufort County Now, Dr. Alveda King ended with these words: “I too have a dream. I have a dream that one day that the God of love will transcend color and economic status and cause us to turn from moral turpitude. I have a dream that Americans will repent from the sin of racism and return to Honor. I have a dream that America will pray and God will forgive us our sins and revive us in our land.”]
8. How would you describe the atmosphere at the event?
Tina: Hopeful. Peaceful. A feeling of community and willingness to help one another. A sense of camaraderie, we are not isolated or alone.
L.T.: They [the people at the event] were some of the nicest people you would ever meet. People proud of the freedom they have because others sacrificed, yet humble, motivated by gratefulness for what they have.
9. L.T., what are your feelings about this rally being held on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech?
L.T.: I felt some would misunderstand and misrepresent the intention of holding the rally on that day. Personally, I believe it was honoring to Martin Luther King, but it went beyond that. Some people think that day [MLK’s speech in 1963] is just for people of color, but it is for freedom for all people—all mankind. People who think it is just for one group of people missed the point.
10. What impact, if any, do you believe this rally will have politically?
Tina: People are less apathetic, becoming more involved in their communities. The religious leaders of the Black Robe Regiment committed to take the principles of honor back to their church community, estimated to reach over 1 million people. They will encourage their congregations to be informed in their voting/political choices and more involved in their own communities.
L.T.: People left with a sense that they were not alone. They realized that hundreds of thousands of people believe and stand for the same things that they do. This has the possibility of encouraging people to get involved and solidify their resolve to stand firm on what they believe—to not give up. If people had a question as to whether they should get involved, this event helped them make that decision. I have a new resolve to sacrifice to preserve freedom in this country.
Note: Doug Schoen, political analyst and Democratic pollster, mentions meeting this couple in the Dallas airport in this article: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/09/03/doug-schoen-tea-party-mainstream-media-bias-glenn-beck-martin-luther-king/#content