Or so it seemed.
I was quite young, not yet 16 years of age. I cannot claim that I was well versed in the politics of the day, but somehow did feel that it was wrong to pursue such adventures which were not related directly to our security. I must have seen a poster on a bulletin board advertising the Nov. 15, 1969 March on DC…..so I made a phone call and the organizers told me to show up at an address in Powelton Village (U of PA. area in Philly) to ride a chartered bus to the rally.
I would be misleading my gentle readers if I said I really knew exactly what I was doing. Like the present teabaggers, I just knew something was not right and this seemed to be one way of letting those feelings be heard. But this story is not about the movement or the war. Rather it is about what has become a “Guinness Record” of my own life – and that is The Most People I have Even Seen in One Place at One Time.
I pride myself somewhat in knowing the size of crowds. It’s really not too hard when you are blessed (or cursed) with some basic math and visual abilities. I have been in a number of crowds, ranging from the Army-Navy game at JFK stadium (100,000) to the Atlantic City Rock Festival (100,000+). But the crowd in DC on Nov. 15, 1969 was larger than any of these by several times!
Various sources at the time put the crowd at 750,000 and historical notes put it from a low of 250K to a high of 600K. However, these guesses are similar to trying to guess the crowd at Woodstock. So many people were back clogging the streets and even unable to get within a mile of the stage, that a full count would be impossible.
Never the less, it is generally agreed that this rally was the largest antiwar demonstration ever held in this country. My guess is 600,000 to 800,000 attendees, which is substantiated (IMHO) by comparing the crowd and my experience with the Obama inaugural. So, without further ado, here are the links and my witness statement so you can make your own guesses!
Here are some links to the Obama event pictures. A crowd estimated at 800,000 to 1,000,000 was at this event. Notice the rather sparse crowd around the Wash. Monument at the left of the photo….of course, the event was held at the capital steps, but it still helps to size up these “ant hills” of people to arrive at a total number.
Ok, so now onto the Nov, 15, 1969 rally. I was in attendance but unable to get anywhere near the Wash. Monument itself nor the Eclipse and White House area where the stage was. I was unable to even hear the speeches.
My perch was located at one or the other of the green dots in this image – way back in the trees. From that spot I could see a solid mass of people filling up every spot in every green space which was visible. The red area represents the solid packed crowd.
For those with interest, here are some pics and links about that particular rally.
Wikipedia – estimates 600,000
Some pictures from a person who was there.