Reports have estimated that over 200,000 people from across the United States descended upon the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Oct. 30 to take part in comedians and television personalities Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbertâ€™s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. The rally was a tongue-in-cheek event that did not endorse any candidates, but instead promoted moderation and cooperation among Americans of all backgrounds.
One member of the crowd was St. Marys native Michael Pearsall, a May 2010 graduate of Elk County Catholic High School and current freshman at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Pearsall, a political science major who attended the rally with fellow members of Pitt-Johnstownâ€™s sociology club, remarked that he first heard of the event while watching an episode of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
Pearsall said his group arrived at the site of the rally around 9 a.m.
â€śEven at that time, the National Mall was extremely crowded,â€ť Pearsall said. â€śGetting around was very difficult and getting any closer to the stage than we were was impossible. You had to be very careful to stay close to your group because getting separated in crowds would have been very easy. We were pretty far away from the stage but there were large JumboTrons set up all around the Mall so everyone could see.â€ť
The rally itself lasted from 12 to 3 p.m. and featured performances from a number of musicians, as well as commentary from co-hosts Stewart and Colbert.
â€śThe rally began with a band called the Roots. Other performers such as Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Bennett, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, and the O'Jays. Actor Sam Waterston and basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were also there,â€ť Pearsall said.
Pearsall noted that toward the end of the event, Stewart gave a speech on his vision for the future of America. Pearsall said he found Stewartâ€™s remarks about Americans overcoming their differences and working together to achieve great and oftentimes difficult things to be especially profound.
â€śThe main theme of the rally was moderation in the face of the extremes of the far right and the far left. It was intended to be a venue for the less vocal, moderate, and responsible members of society. Jon Stewart did very well at sending that message. The atmosphere of the event was extremely positive and constructive,â€ť Pearsall said.
For more information on this story, see the Nov. 3 version of The Daily press.