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Beck, Palin tell thousands to 'restore America'
Messages on the shirts of ralliers included: "I can see November from my house," "Restoring honor starts here" and "RECESSION: When your neighbor loses his job. DEPRESSION: When you lose your job. RECOVERY: When Obama loses his job."
"We just feel that government's getting too large," said Bill Bunting, 58, of Lancaster, Pa., who was laid off from his construction job this spring and now works as a real estate agent. "It's mainly to send a message to politicians that we're tired of the corruption, both Democrats and Republicans. They should go back to following the Constitution."
Others came just for Beck, a television personality who has become a hero of the emboldened tea party movement. At 8:50 a.m., as the crowd spotted him near the Lincoln Memorial, people chanted: "We love Glenn! We love Glenn!"
"I watch Glenn Beck," said Kathy Thomas, 70, a dressmaker from Bridgewater, N.J. "I love Glenn Beck. I have a lot of admiration for the man. We feel that he's honest, sincere and really cares about the country and the people who are in it."
Olga Sanchez, 79, of Tampa, had never been to a rally in Washington. But Sanchez, a retired administrative assistant, watches Beck on television every day. And when she heard him announce plans for the rally, Sanchez called her younger brother, a trumpet player in the National Symphony Orchestra, and said she wanted to come.
"I'm a big fan of Glenn Beck," said Sanchez, a registered Republican, sitting in her walker in front of the memorial's first step. "He is opening our eyes, teaching us the history we didn't learn in school."
The event had a strong military theme, with Beck giving a "Badge of Merit" to three soldiers. The rally was paid for through donations to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which funds scholarships for children of service members killed in action.
Speakers at Sharpton's 11 a.m. rally at Dunbar High School were to include Education Secretary Arne Duncan, radio host Tom Joyner, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous and National Urban League President Marc Morial. "African Americans are still not treated equally in terms of education, the criminal justice system," Sharpton said in an interview. "We're coming to remind ourselves of the dream and with a challenge to claim it."
Back on the Mall, Rosa Sadowski, 50, stood on one of the pediments at the base of the Lincoln Memorial steps singing "America the Beautiful" in a strong, clear soprano. She immigrated from Mexico to the United States 13 years ago as a missionary, and now lives in Indianapolis with her husband, Patrick.
Patrick Sadowski, wearing a polo shirt with eagles and stars and stripes, said that he belongs to the Constitution Party, because "I feel the Republicans and the Democrats are the same people who own all the horses in the race." He said that he favors candidates of any party as long as they are "biblically based."
John Sawyers and Linda Adams say they aren't angry but simply frustrated at what they call the "ruling class."
And at the health-care bill they say few supported. And at schools that no longer say the Pledge of Allegiance. And at elected officials who run on one platform and govern on another.