“O say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?” Alan Keyes cautioned assembled conservatives that the final phrase of our national anthem is a question, not a statement. Will our land remain the home of the free and brave? The crowd began an enthusiastic chant: “We’re still free, we’re still brave: our – flag – still – waves!”
The sun was shining and the temperature was a comfortable 70 degrees for the Fort Wayne Tea Party against excessive taxation. The crowd was large, although how large depends on who you ask. I heard a speaker at the rally estimate the crowd at 5,000; online news reports say “hundreds,” and I, being an eyewitness, would estimate 2,000.
The rally was held on the courthouse green, and was from 11-2 on Saturday afternoon (which makes more sense to me than the more numerous April 15 “tax day” parties; after all, aren’t most participants working then?). The lawn was filled when my family arrived shortly before 11. The crowd included young and old, many with a variety of clever homemade signs. Unfortunately, the crowd was mainly white: although I specifically looked, I saw just two blacks (a man and his son), and no Hispanics, although Fort Wayne has plentiful quantities of both.
Lowering taxes and less government involvement in general were the themes of the speeches given, as well as the themes of most posters displayed. There were few signs mentioning Obama, and other than hearing a brief quip about his missing birth certificate in Dr. Keyes’ speech, he was not mentioned either. Politicians of all parties were skewered for their free-spending ways.
A variety of speakers took to the podium (I suppose there was a podium, although to be honest we could not get close enough to tell. If one existed, it was not sufficiently tall for most attendees to see) before Dr. Keyes began his speech at 12:15. He lived up to his reputation as an excellent speaker, leading the crowd to outrage by touting various governmental spending sprees, and reminding us of our nation’s founders and their ideals.
What type of nation will we have to leave to the generations after us? It was a question he asked of the crowd, and one that is well worth pondering as our country goes through a period of rapid change.
I was impressed by the conduct of the crowd. The few policemen stationed in nearby cars had a quiet morning as I saw no incidents of unruly behavior. The participants were friendy and polite. Many children were in the crowd, some with signs they had made. Other people brought pets. Attendees along the roads held up signs for oncoming traffic to see, and many vehicles honked in support.
It was a wonderful day for an event designed to celebrate our nation’s liberty and to inspire us to keep it.