[Editor’s note: This may be the longest piece ever published at American Thinker in over a decade. We’re publishing it because it is the most detailed eyewitness report we’ve received primarily about the peaceful part of the rally, including the walk to the Capitol. The media has almost aggressively ignored these facts. Also, the level of detail matters because multiple people are trying to piece together events to determine how the entirety of January 6 played out. Stick with it. It’s fascinating and important.]
The Save America Rally, sponsored by Women For America First, was a totally separate happening from what took place inside the Capitol building. We’re still waiting for the media to figure that out. Yawn. Even so, they’re too biased to be honest and truthful enough to report the distinction so others around the world can know the difference, too. Trump was right when he exclaimed in his rally address that the biggest enemy of the country is the media. Our so-called “eyes” and “ears” are neither.
My brother and I arrived in D.C. at 8:30 a.m. and parked a few blocks north of the Capitol in a garage by the Hyatt Hotel. We walked toward the end of Pennsylvania Avenue and the Capitol came into view through the trees to our left. As we started walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, we looked back at the Capitol a few times. I’d never seen it and was impressed by its size and dominance in the landscape.
The air was mostly quiet except for the people talking along the way. There were some people standing around the park just west of the building. Mostly everyone in our view up the Mall was going in our direction to the rally. My brother asked, “Do you want to go see the Capitol?” I responded, “Not yet. We’ll have time later on. We should just head for the rally.”
When we reached 4th Street, we turned left to walk along the edge of the Mall onto Madison Drive. We again looked back toward the Capitol and then, through the bare trees, ahead to the Washington Monument.
By then, the number of people walking with us to the rally started to increase quite a bit. Over to the south side of the Mall, so many people were carrying banners and Flags, they looked like a parade by themselves!
We didn’t bring any flags or signs. We had our dark winter coats, dark hats, and dark gloves. We joked that people might think we’re Antifa! Soon after, two women did assume we looked like Antifa infiltrators at the rally.
Halfway down the Mall, a sound that seemed from far away made us stop to listen more closely. To me, it sounded like thousands of voices yelling all at once almost as if it were a stadium crowd shouting at a cheerleader’s directions. My brother said it sounded like a jet engine off in the distance, but it wasn’t a continuous sound that a jet would produce. We heard it again. “That could be the crowd up at the rally!” we exclaimed.
Then, we could hear a voice between the crowd’s shouts. Must have been someone speaking at the rally and the sound was making its way to the Mall. We were still more than a half-mile from the rally! Our level of anticipation increased a lot at that point. Then and there, we believed we were going to see and be part of something that was much bigger than we could have imagined.
We paused across from the Smithsonian American History Museum to take pictures. The Washington Monument was in clearer view above the trees and it looked like a good background for pictures.
Gauging the mood of the people walking with and further away from us, it seemed we all shared the same feeling: This is going to be big and we’re heading to an event together to show our support for a review of the election. That’s all the people want – a review to either prove or disprove the claims that voter fraud skewed the results. Aren’t we in charge? Don’t we have the right to expect that all votes for any candidate are legal and are counted?
We were at the end of the Mall where no more trees blocked the view of the Washington Monument. Thousands and thousands of people were crossing the roads and coming from the other side of the Mall. The flags circling the Monument were waving straight out.
The hillside facing the Ellipse was totally covered with people. We were maybe 1,500 to 1,800 feet from where the stage was set up and, looking north, toward the Ellipse and White House, there was no lawn to see; it was just a sea of people. That’s where we were headed.
People had fabricated the American flag to wear as capes and into wraps to help keep warm. People made flagstaffs out of fishing poles, broomsticks, 2x4 boards, and fiberglass rods. I only saw two or three flagstaffs that looked like they were designed as flagstaffs. Almost all the rest seemed to be homemade.
Flags and banners as far as we could see across the park were whipping horizontally in the wind. Those with longer fiberglass and aluminum flagstaffs were trying hard to keep hold of them as they bowed like bananas. Some staffs had up to three flags and banners.
One staff with three flags had a banner that depicted a painting of President Trump sitting at his desk signing something. Standing to his right was Ronald Reagan and Frederick Douglas. The banner was whipping around too much to make out the others surrounding Trump. Some in the painting were shown in the 1770’s type of clothes. We supposed that Founders such as Jefferson, Washington, or Adams were in the scene on that banner.
We kept moving west along the edge of the park toward the bigger crowds down by the Ellipse. There was a large monitor near the base of the slope at Constitution Avenue. Trees and people blocked our view of the White House.
We noticed that there were massive numbers of people further away to the left of the stage. Although we thought we’d have a chance to get over to that area, we were wrong. The mass of people just stopped, and it looked futile to try to get any closer for a clearer look to the stage. Still, we were near a big screen that people up on the Monument hill could see.
Everyone was so packed together that people were pressing up against one another from all sides. We found ourselves next to a vendor selling t-shirts and sweatshirts, but the crowd was so packed together that we could only see a small part of the vendor’s table. My brother said, “Anyone could grab a t-shirt or sweatshirt and easily get away with it without paying, but nobody’s doing that!”
Where we were, people seemed to be content with staying put. Some were trying to make their way out of that part of the crowd inch by inch. From all around us we could hear people saying, “excuse me” or “can I squeeze by you?” People were doing their best to turn their bodies to try to give others a few more inches to squeeze through. “Thank you,” people were saying as they moved.
A very small Asian woman and her companion were trying to push through as fast as the crowd could allow them. The woman’s head was bowed down and her gloved hands were pressed to her cheeks, one hand still holding a small American flag between her fingers on a little wooden stick/ She repeated over and over, “I’m claustrophobic, I’m claustrophobic.” It seemed all those in her path made an extra effort to clear a way for her to escape. These small acts of consideration were noticed everywhere we went on January 6.
Masks? Few, if any were wearing them. I was feeling far too blown away with the enormity of the crowds, the size of the area, the history of the park, and in being with so many people who felt the same way we did that I truly had forgotten all about wearing a mask. We had removed them when we started down Pennsylvania Avenue when it was easier to keep a distance from others. We put our masks on and kept them on for almost all of the rally.
“Let’s head for the higher ground,” my brother suggested.
We turned around and did our best to follow the path of the two ladies. Others were trying to find more room, too. A woman next to us caught our attention. She said, “You guys look like Antifa -- you’re not wearing or carrying a flag and you’re all in black.”
“No, we’re not Antifa, we’re Trump supporters,” I responded with a smile.
She smiled back, but it made us conscious that others were probably wondering what she wondered. I was wearing khaki pants. She couldn’t see them. It took us more than 45 minutes to move a few hundred feet up the lawn towards the Washington Monument.
We stopped along the edge of one of the walks encircling the Monument. Here, people had a little more room, and the view was perfect. Although we could no longer see the White House and could barely see the stage through the trees lining Constitution Avenue. But the monitor and speakers set up in the German American Garden provided all we needed. The tremendous crowds, the views, and the setting of the park elevated our feelings above and beyond.
“We’re looking at America,” my bother said.
“We sure are. What time is it?”
“Trump is supposed to speak at 11:00.”
In fact, he started around 11:40.
Kimberly Guilfoyle was on stage. Rudy followed, and then Eric Trump. Then a long pause in the addresses until Trump took the stage.
Just before that, the clouds thinned out just a little bit and the scene began to brighten up. The tops of the buildings off in the distance were in sunlight. We weren’t, but we turned around to take a look. It looked like the sunlight was shining from behind the top of the Washington Monument. People were taking pictures of it.
The crowd cheered in anticipation of the day brightening up, and probably took the cloud opening as a sign that Trump’s address and the sunshine would begin at the same time. Then the wind speed picked up and the thicker clouds filled in the gaps. Danny said later that it felt as if the temperature dropped five degrees when the sun went back into hiding. The sun came out later in the afternoon on our way home.
When the caravan of black vehicles and flashing lights was seen far off in front of us, people began to clap and cheer. Flagstaffs that had not been held vertical rose up straight and were kept high. In a moment, it seemed that all the flags in the crowd went up another foot or more as the people realized President Trump was soon to appear.
“I think we’re about a long par 4 away from the stage.”
“That and maybe more, probably.”
The next day, using Google Maps, I scaled the distance to be approximately 553 yards. My brother was right. It was a par 5 distance to the stage. We judged that we were 200 yards north and down the slope from the Monument. Far from the stage area but still able to make out the flags and video screens on either side of the stage.
People were still pouring in from Pennsylvania Avenue. The masses had gone as far as they could on Constitution Avenue. Who knows how far down Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues the people gathered? To our west, our east, and behind us to the south, the horizon was all people and flags -- maybe thousands of flags, and tens and tens of thousands of Americans.
Congress should have been there to see it. If they had been, I’m sure their accusatory rhetoric once they reconvened following the rioter’s break-in would have been much different. Instead of ranting about how evil the protesters were, and how evil it was for Trump to get everyone riled up to storm the Capitol, they could have checked their hate speech toward us Americans. They could have seen that the rally was docile except for the cheering, clapping, and flag-waving.
But no, they weren’t there. They only repeated what CNN and the rest of the biased media told them. Damn patriotic Americans! Who do they think they are, protesting peacefully and not smashing car windows, burning businesses, and throwing Molotov cocktails at the Police? We’ll show them! We’ll lie about them and get Congress so fired up that anyone who was planning to vote to review the election results will say Hell with that – I’m changing my vote!
It worked. The media has done it again, and again, and again. . . . And the weak-kneed politicians do it again and again and again.
Parades of people carrying their signs and flags made their way through the crowds up near the Monument. A group identifying themselves as Vietnamese were shouting, “No Socialism in America!” They know. They know what it’s like to live under socialistic/communistic government regimes. Those regimes don’t let people’s votes count either!
I’m paraphrasing Trump here, but this is roughly what he said to the gathered people: My advisors told me that if I could get 3 million more votes than in 2016, I’d be unbeatable. I had 63 million votes in 2016. If I could get 66 million, I’d win. I got 75 million votes!
Groups of Chinese women were going through the crowds with petitions calling for the end of the CCP (i.e., the Chinese Communist Party). We signed. What good will it do in ending the Commies rule of China? Nothing, but the people were making the effort and were maintaining hope for the women’s country. The women were politely asking for help. Seeing the thick stack of paper that looked to be loaded with signatures, they received a lot of help this day. A lot of signatures.
We noticed state flags of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, and Alaska in the crowds. Some staffs had the American Flag upside down to signal that the country was in distress. It is, and it will be for a long time to come as long as any American believes enough votes were stolen to make it appear that Joe Biden actually won. The guy that campaigned from his basement and supposedly had 14 million more votes than Barrack Obama got! The guy whose vote count reportedly increased instantly by 12,000 votes in Georgia, and at the same time, Trump’s vote count decreased by 12,000 in Georgia! Gee, how’d that happen, Congress?
Trump said in his address that all he wants is for Congress to allow the several states asking for the chance to recertify their electoral votes to recertify their votes. These are states with Republican legislatures. Given the chance by Congress, they would likely have changed their electoral votes to support Trump. If that happened, Trump would remain President.
But the quislings in the Republican Party would have none of that on Wednesday. “I hope Mike Pence comes through,” Trump said. Whether the Vice President could do what Trump was advised he can do is another thing. Congress could have made it happen though.
I believe if the media had insisted that the small cohort of idiot rioters as had been ginned up by the rally and Trump, a few more Republicans might have voted to allow those several states to recertify their electoral votes. Everyone at the rally -- including President Trump – knew, though, that the odds were not in our favor.
Too many congressional Republicans are afraid. They want to be liked by the media, but no matter how hard they try to be liked by the media, the media still bashes them repeatedly. There must be some kind of phobia to explain their timidity. Thank God these people weren’t there in America’s first Congress! On Wednesday, the people stood together, and will no doubt remain standing together long after everyone is home and back to their daily lives.
“Let’s go,” said my brother.
“Ok, let’s go,” I replied.
It looked as if many others had the same idea and we started to meander toward the Mall with them. Trump was still talking but it sounded like his address would be coming to a close soon.
By the way, we both remarked that the only police we had seen up to that point of the rally were the police directing traffic. There were people up on top of some of the buildings who we figured were the police, but we saw zero uniformed police near the Monument, in the crowds, or anywhere along our walk down the Mall to the Capitol.
There didn’t need to be any police. The people at the rally and on the Mall and streets were respectful and kind to one another. Nobody was swearing, throwing objects, harassing others, or burning the American Flag. The only garbage we saw on the ground – anywhere -- was at the overflowing trash containers close to the sidewalks on 14th Street.
What a beautiful view down the Mall to the Capitol! As soon as the Capitol came into view, we could tell there were people gathered up close to the building.
“Dan,” I said. “Look at the Capitol. Do you see the people there already?”
Since we left before Trump finished, we were among some of the first rally attendees to head to the Capitol. There was no “march” on the Capitol. Nobody we heard or talked with all day called for a march on the Capitol. The rally people just started making their way to the Capitol. If we were organized, maybe there would have been a “march.” But we were all just there to help as participants – not to “march” on the Capitol.
The Mall is about a mile long. The space is enormous. “The size of this park and buildings makes you feel the importance of it all,” my brother said, with “it” meaning America.
A man with a microphone and speakers was set up on 14th street. He was declaring that the Supreme Court is no different than the crooked politicians. “Amy Coney Barret is the same as Schumer”, he was calling out. “It makes no difference who Trump appointed,” he said. He’s right. Only Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito seem to have held the opinion that the evidence presented to the Supreme Court was enough to allow a review of the vote.
Maybe after the pressures of deadlines, when perspectives clear up and enough time has passed, will more people realize that something terribly wrong took place on and soon after November 3 and that a mistake so monumental will mark our time in history with an asterisk. In real-time, maybe some people could not believe that something so big happened. Something happened.
We were about a half-mile from the Capitol when my phone finally made a connection to be able to call my mom. She’s now 94 and can only listen to the radio and can barely see the television. Full of wisdom, prayer, respect for all, and patriotism, we hadn’t told her we were going to Washington.
“Where are you?”
“Ma, Danny and I are walking on the Washington Mall and headed to the Capitol. We just left the Trump rally….”
She was very happy and proud. So were our other brothers who texted to say thanks for representing the family – the “deplorables” one jokingly texted.
Then in the middle of the Mall, a black man who appeared to be in his early 40’s, was shouting, too. He was pointing both hands to the sky and looking right at the young white guy, “I ain’t black! I ain’t black! Joe Biden said I ain’t black!”
The white guy with the banner rushed up to him and screamed, “You ain’t black! You ain’t black! I know you ain’t black!”
Both were almost laughing, but their mannerisms and loudness caught the attention of many who couldn’t make out what they were doing. The black guy was making the point that since he supports Trump, Joe Biden doesn’t think he’s a real black person. The white guy was playing along and pretending to mock him. It was pretty cool to see two people with similar sentiments about the alleged voting injustices! They hugged and kept walking their way to the Capitol.
Up ahead of us on a park bench, a few people were watching the scene. We could tell by their expressions that they were thinking that a fight was going to break out between the two men. When we approached them, we said, “They’re just playing around,” and explained what they were doing. Smiles and relief came to their faces.
“Where did you come from?”
“We drove up from Texas but attended a rally in Atlanta along the way.”
“Wow, if you go back home through Atlanta, tell them to straighten their act out, will ya?”
They laughed and we kept walking to the Capitol.
We turned around to look back to the Washington Monument. Unbelievable sight. Washington Monument in one direction, Capitol in the other. America. Thousands walking down the slope from the Washington Monument and along the wide paths and lawn of the Mall toward us.
“Danny, I’ll bet the police up on the Capitol never expected this many people. I hope those people up there turn around to see everyone headed their way.”
We’d never seen or felt anything like it. As I write this two days later, I’m wondering, if there hadn’t been so many patriotic-feeling Americans at the rally and walking to the Capitol, would the idiots still have stormed the building? Did they mistake the number of people on the Mall and gathered around the park for a free pass to storm the building?
We’ll not know unless someone says so. Even so, the only ones guilty of causing trouble were the ones who stormed the Capitol – not us, not the hundreds of thousands at the rally, not Rudy, Kimberly, Eric, or the President. Get it, media people?
We arrived at the pool between the General Grant statue and the Mall. There, people were sitting on the low walls surrounding the pool. Most were standing in the plaza. The crowd at the Capitol didn’t attract any attention except that they were up closer than we were.
We made our way around to the left of the pool near where Constitution Ave and Pennsylvania Avenue meet at the Freedom Statue. We were about 100 feet behind the statue next to the pool. People had climbed up onto it to see above the people, or to be seen themselves.
Next to us was a monstrous tree appearing to have a 5 or 6’ diameter trunk. Japanese Zelkova, Latin name Zelkova Serrata is the name of the tree. A couple of young men got boosts to climb up into it. They were carrying small American flags.
Using Google Maps when we got home, we estimated we stood 330 yards northwest of the center of the west side of the Capitol, and about 300 yards from the middle of the group where the rioters emerged from.
Next to us, a group of three women was praying for angels to come down to help Congress vote to help save America. They let us take a picture of them. A black woman praying along with them held up what looked like an ornately painted horn carved out of a branch. “It sounds like Joshua when he blew the horn to start the Exodus in the Ten Commandments movie,” I commented. The praying was pleading. The women had much sadness on their faces, but their voices expressed hope.
We were in a perfect position at that corner and part of the growing crowd. We could look behind us down Madison Drive and the Mall, down Pennsylvania Avenue and we had a completely clear view to the Capitol building. We stood along some crowd control fences, the type of metal bars that look like bicycle racks.
The people around us were so interesting and the scene was so great that we stayed put. Plus, we had a straight path toward the parking garage by the Hyatt. I recall looking all around the pool at the people, at the General Grant statue, back toward the Mall. Again, we didn’t see any gallows and noose.
We deduced that the crowd way upfront at the Capitol was in place long before we arrived at the place we stopped. The people up in the Capitol crowd couldn’t have also been at the Save America rally.
Maybe a small number were, but there’s no way the rally could have inspired anyone with half a mind to think about battling the police to get into the Capitol. We didn’t think it was at all possible for them to have heard any of the speakers at the rally -- Trump included -- unless the rally had been broadcast through their phones. We didn’t see anyone listening to their phones all day. The phone reception was sparse at best.
There was scaffolding set up on either side of the balcony of the Capitol. Seating for inauguration day, we assumed.
We saw what looked like a few police up on the balcony and down lower in front by the edge of the crowd, but we couldn’t see the front edge of the crowd that ended up fighting with the police. Then, it looked like a smoke canister flew up and spiraled through the air into the crowd to the right of the scaffolding. Then it flew back toward the Capitol. There didn’t appear to be any commotion in that part of the crowd. The people around us didn’t say they saw people fighting or anything.
The smell of the smoke reached our area. It wasn’t tear gas. The crowd around us didn’t seem to be alarmed one bit. The praying continued and the horn still sounded out. More and more people were coming from the rally. By this time, the crowd was large enough to discourage the people near us from thinking about trying to move up closer to the Capitol. After being scrunched over at the Ellipse, we stayed where we were.
“What was that?”
“Sounded like a gunshot.”
Pop! They sounded like they came from the left end of the Capitol. Still, we didn’t see any police running or crowd movement to indicate there was trouble up there. Then there were several deep percussions sounds like a distant and muffled bass instrument.
I was leaning up against the bike-rack barrier at the time and thought the sound may have been from someone rapping the top rail of the crowd control fencing. So, I made a fist and tapped the top of it. It sounded similar to the percussion sounds we heard.
“No, Tom, that’s not where the sound came from. It sounded like it came from up there,” said Dan, pointing toward the left side of the Capitol.
Again, we and the rest of those around us didn’t seem to see anything unusual except for the residue of the smoke canister. Then we saw a few people had climbed up onto the scaffolding that was supporting the inauguration seats. Idiots. But still, we didn’t detect anything but the stupid ones climbing the scaffolding. It was about 1:30.
“What do you think, should we start to head out?” Dan asked.
“Not yet, in a few. It’s nice to take in the scene.”
Around 1:40 we started walking toward the Hyatt just north of the Capitol. I only got a few hours of sleep the night before where we stayed just north of Washington. We had a long drive ahead and we had to make the call to leave so we could have some daylight on the way back to Massachusetts.
The last picture I took was from the park area next to Pennsylvania Ave looking at the Capitol. It was 1:42. We saw nothing going on. People were walking about. The police by the crosswalk were standing calmly and not showing any sign that trouble was brewing anywhere.
It seemed to be just a normal day in Washington where several hundred thousand people descended to attend a Save America rally, to see the President, and to urge and pray for Congress to ensure the vote was fair. We did our part. Congress didn’t.
We were on 295 heading north toward Baltimore when I checked the news on the phone. “Says here a 16-year-old was shot in the neck and was killed, and someone else was shot in the chest!”
We didn’t know who shot or was shot. We thought the two pops we heard were the shots. They probably weren’t because it looks like the people who were shot were inside the Capitol and, when we left, the rioters didn’t look like they had breached the barriers. We doubted we would have heard the shots that killed two people, so the pops we heard may have been something else.
A text came in saying that Vice President Pence caved in. I don’t know. Did he have the ability to make sure some of the states could recertify their electors? Within an hour of leaving, it felt as if we went from a feeling of a great uplifting, patriotic American gathering of people from around the nation who were doing their part to support America and fair elections to “what the hell just happened there!?”
The internet reports we were able to read on the way home weren’t being updated fast enough for us to have realized the full scope of what took place. Only when we got home did we find out what happened. We got double whammed. First, Congress failed. Congress failed to comprehend that the Save America rally was peaceful, respectful, and an example of how vast crowds of Americans can gather to protest without causing any trouble.
There was no window-smashing, turning cars over, burning them, and burning people’s businesses at the rally or by the rally attendees. Nope, any window-smashing and looting were done by kids on bikes. That’s what the news reported. The people there to protest to Save America didn’t riot and get into the Capitol. That crowd was stationed at the Capitol before the rally even started.
The police shot a war veteran in the neck and killed her. A news report showed security forces rushing out of the Capitol. They opened the doors to pepper spray rioters who were stupid, but they weren’t in the building.
Why on Earth would security forces even think of opening those doors? Keep the damn doors closed and locked! Rioters outside the doors can be dealt with by police who are already outside the doors! Your job is to make sure the doors stay closed! If the rioters break the glass, and the doors stayed locked, the rioters would have to crawl through a glass shard opening. Clock them on the head one by one as they try. Pepper spray them one by one as they show their faces. Don’t open the doors -- ever.
One report said the veteran soldier was shot in the chest as she tried to climb in through a door’s broken window. Shot. After 9/11, one may think that a different type of glass would have replaced the glass that was smashed on Wednesday. She shouldn’t have tried to get in. Nobody should have tried. She’s dead and her family has been decimated forever.
We don’t have any more details to share. I’m glad we left before the worst of it. I wouldn’t want my memory to retain sights and sounds caused by terrible decisions. The rally put on by Women For America First was a huge success. Others have used the media to unfairly stain it.
This was just an account of the day, and some thoughts following it, from one of two brothers who were able to make it down to Washington to do our part to help the President and to encourage Congress to vote to review the election. We’d all be satisfied if we could feel confident that the process works, and that the privilege we’ve earned to vote ensures that “We the People” keep our hands on the reins of our government.
Without confidence in the process, votes mean nothing. Stealing votes saps the nation’s mooring lines and the government becomes adrift without purpose other than that of the ones capturing power from us. Mooring lines can be repaired. People we like and don’t may be elected but we have to know that those who win elections won them fair and square. We can accept it when people we didn’t vote for wins if we know they won without cheating, or without others cheating for them. If voting fraud is allowed to run rampant, America is doomed. They handed us a Republic. Now what?
*Thomas P. Smith is a community college professor and a 24-year USNR Navy veteran.
IMAGES: All images in this essay come from Thomas P. Smith.