It is a reasonable illusion for an outsider to believe that people came from all over the United States to see Glenn Beck in Wilmington, Ohio. And anyone that wanted to see Glenn had a chance, because he was all over the town.
Click below to see him address the crowd that was standing in 10 degree weather, about -5 with the wind chill. See the Blog spot of this video on The Blaze.com, one of the best news sites on the internet.
That address was after a 2 hour radio show, a book signing, his 5 PM show for Fox, then this little speech just prior to his big 8 pm show. In between all those events he took the time to meet many, many people and hear their stories. He made himself incredibly accessible for a personality of his stature.
The critic might listen to this clip and think that bringing 3 new jobs to a book store, and the prospect of a few more jobs here and there isn’t a big deal. They might also wonder why the crowd wasn’t noisier, because the audio sounds like a small crowd. I can say this much……it was quiet in the crowd because everyone was frozen. It was too painful to clap, and the roughly 1000 or so people in the middle of Main Street stretched from sidewalk to sidewalk and extended all the way back to the theater where Glenn’s tour bus was parked. For people with such criticisms I’ll say one thing to you……what are you doing to help out your fellow man? What are you doing to help the world around you….besides complaining? I have never in my entire life seen a personality like Glenn Beck do anything of this caliber before. Oprah comes to mind as the closest thing. But I know Wilmington, and I have known many people that have lived there for years, and to see the transition that Glenn Beck made on Mainstreet USA in downtown Wilmington, Ohio is nothing short of extraordinary.
But the event was not about Glenn Beck. It was about spirituality.
When I first arrived that morning I realized that something had happened in that town. The event was similar to a fair, where the street was blocked off from outside traffic. At the south end of one city block right next to the hotel, was the stage you saw Glenn speaking from. At the other end was a street vendor. In between those two things was a book store, a church, a comic book store, several craft stores, and the majestic Murphy Theater with the “Broke” tour bus parked in front. And the street was full of some of the most bright eyed and thoughtful people all gathered in one place that I can ever recall experiencing. The only way for me to describe it is that it reminded me of the good feelings you get from people when you attend church.
When people go to church, they are always on their best behavior. They tend to be kind to each other as though the eyes of God will take notice and grant them entry into heaven. So people drop their discriminations and anxious feelings at the door of a church and show a side of themselves they don’t show during the rest of the week. I have noticed that much of that image disappears quickly when church is over and people get back inside their cars.
That day in Wilmington, the cold and the nature of the event sifted through the various personalities of society, and all that were present in that street were easy to identify. If society stopped on that day, and the government stopped issuing social security checks, or stopped building highways or any of the services we’ve all grown used to, it would be those people who would be the leadership that would save society and help it rebuild.
Not that everyone was running around with crosses and praying to Jesus. In fact, the only time I saw such references were in actual churches. But, the people behaved as though they were in church, their manner was not instigated out of fear from the gaze of God because they were generally good people to begin with.
I believe more people made eye contact with me on that day in Wilmington than in months of traveling in heavier crowds. It’s because the concentration of people at that event shared in common a love of life, and a lack of fear from what others may see in them.
I also spoke to more people than I have in quite some time. Normally, I dress in a way that people find unapproachable. I normally wear Gargoyle Sunglasses, with an outback cowboy hat just about anywhere I go in public if I’m not traveling by motorcycle. It’s an old habit. Since I’m a thinker, it keeps people from wanting to interrupt my thoughts with useless chatter. That might sound cruel, but I’m being honest. I don’t enjoy being interrupted when I’m thinking, which is all the time. But, I do enjoy the company of people who are genuinely good of heart, and are functioning not from fear but out of sincerity. With that said, many, many people made sure to speak to me and my wife. They didn’t go out of their way to do it, and weren’t doing it in a fake gesture of hopeful redemption. They did it because they wanted to.
I’ve spent entire days at amusement parks like Kings Island, Ceder Point, Universal Studios, and all the Disney Parks, in close proximity to thousands and thousands of people, and I spoke to more people in Wilmington than at all those playgrounds of summertime pleasure. Ironically, the only place I’ve had such an experience of anywhere I’ve traveled was in Key West.
And that brings this simple banter of letters to the ultimate conclusion. People did not go to Wilmington to see Glenn Beck. Glenn was simply serving as a focal point of positive energy that thousands of people were willing to brave the cold and isolation of that small Ohio town for a chance to experience something authentic.
I could see by the people shopping and carrying bags of crafts and other homemade mementos that many had found that authenticity in stores ran by the good people of Wilmington. Others had found authenticity in the Churches, specifically places like the Sugertree Ministries, and the by now well-known chalk paintings. But my wife and I found authenticity in a little Mediterranean restaurant called simply enough, The Mediterranean Restaurant and Café.
It was a time of day where the sun had dropped below the highest buildings and the air instantly become colder. My wife and I were hungry and frozen solid. I saw a Kentucky Fried Chicken at the north end of town so we headed away from the crowded street packed with people trying to get their books signed by Glenn Beck at the bookstore. We passed the inauspicious Mediterranean place naively when my wife said through chattering teeth, “why don’t we eat here? We can go to KFC anytime.” I looked down the slight hill at the KFC sign seeking familiarity and I realized she was right. We came to Wilmington to have a bit of adventure on that Wednesday afternoon in the cold, and going to KFC would be short changing our experience.
So we stepped into the entrance, which was like a strange world because the first thing we saw was an empty hallway with a door on the immediate left. A sign on the wall said, “Welcome Glenn Beck.” I opened that next door and an enchanted world of warmth embraced us. There was also a huge line that extended all the way down a pathway that led to the kitchen. There was a fire in the center of the room in an open pit fireplace, but the line coaxed me to turn back into the cold and head to KFC. That’s when a few of those people I mentioned before spoke to me. “The line isn’t so bad. We’ve only been in line for about 20 minutes,” said a kind woman in her upper 50s. Then a man about four feet down the line addressed me. “I love the hat! That’s a great look you have there. Hey, the line moves fast. Don’t worry about it.”
My wife and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and decided to stay. We proceeded to head to the back of the line. The place was packed but nobody was angry or in a hurry. The people filling the dining room all had lights on in their eyes. I didn’t feel anxious to stand in a line. I typically hate lines, but in that room, with the whole day ahead of my wife and me, the warmth of the room and the good nature of the people, the wait in that line was actually part of the fun.
From the line we could look out into the large dining room equipped with ceiling fans hanging from the high ceiling. The décor was standard Mediterranean, the colors were earthy and on the light side for the most part.
Finally, after our toes had found their feeling again, the hostess greeted us and took us to a table that would normally seat four. I found it odd that because there was only my wife and I, the hostess didn’t wait for a table equipped for just two, given the length of the line behind us. She seemed unconcerned, and I wasn’t about to argue, because the aroma in the room was enchanting to our already hungry stomachs.
For the next hour my wife and I both ordered gyros, which we’ve had from various places all over the United States. And what the waitress put before us was a creation of some remote artisan, not just a cook in the kitchen. The gyro and fries were truly exquisite and I found myself licking my finger tips just to recover the memory of the taste long after the gyro was gone.
We spent the rest of the day after that meal visiting sites all over town. We saw a lot of wonderful energy at the various events. The day came to a sad end when Glenn Beck came out on that stage like the host of a fine party and thanked everyone for coming. While outsiders of this experience would mistake that Glenn Beck was the focus of the event, all that were there know otherwise. Glenn simply held a party in the town and invited America to come and be a part of it. Once there, each person found something special unique to themselves.
And Glenn Beck knew it all along. That is the genius of a man that thinks outside the box. Like any truly good host, Glenn set the mood, and the rest was done by the people in attendance.
So was it an audacious statement that Glenn made, that Wilmington could be way out ahead of the rest of the nation in spirit, and that it could serve as an example to the nation of what our country should look like? I say no, because I found a unique treasure in the form of food in a quant Mediterranean restaurant on Mainstreet that overlooks the courthouse. The treasures of this world are not along paved roads and easy to reach places. All those treasures have been claimed in their ease by the rest of society, and the corrupt among us guard them like dragons sleeping on piles of gold. New treasure must be found away from the Washington DC’s and New York Cities. They won’t be found in the streets of LA, or in Beijing, China.
New treasures are found in places like Wilmington, Ohio and the thousands of small towns all across this country, otherwise known as the fly-over states. Glenn Beck was right…….again. All of us that went to that frozen sacred place and soaked up the new found treasures of that town can now utter ourselves to deeply comforting sleep each night with the secret knowledge that “We are Wilmington!”
The next time I want a gyro, my wife and I will drive out of our way to go back to The Mediterranean Restaurant and Café in Wilmington, Ohio, and we’ll enjoy our new found treasure and skip the KFC.