March 12, 2004

FROM THE SPANISH EMBASSY, a reader reports:

I'm just leaving the silent march at the Spanish Embassy. A small crowd of two to three hundred gatheed at the embassy, and then at noon, walked across the street in silence to Washington Circle, across from the George Washington University Hospitals. Everybody filled up the Northern third of the circle, and silently faced the embassy, and the Spanish flag on front slowly flapping at half mast. A few friends greeted each other somberly, along with the inevitable quiet, nearly whispered checking. "Family alright?". "I'm okay, you?". I also heard a number of comments, to the effect that this was the most screwed up thing ever, women and children killed and maimed, a couple "Aznar was right" and of course a few "this means war" comments.

The crowd seemed mixed - a lot of younger people, probably students and World Bank interns and the like; some gray haired diplomats; Spanish expats, other Europeans, and a smattering of Americans including a few military members and a couple civil servants I know. The quiet dignity of the crowd was impressive.

I'm leaving now - gotta go back to work. There's only so much joy a man can fit in a day. The crowd doesn't seem to be abating - as some leave, others show up. It's still really quiet - touchingly so. Just a lot of people looking at the embassy and the flag. It must look odd to the oblivious drivers in the slow mid-day traffic; in this town, we're more used to giant papier mache puppets, cheerfully shouting pro-lifers and hollering anti-globalists than quiet, well turned out flash mobs.

By the way, the small garden adjacent to the front door of the embassy is packed with flowers. Nice job, bloggers.

More to come. The pictures of the flowers are cellphone pix just sent by Blaster of Blaster's Blog, who's there now. To speed page-loads, I've moved the rest of the pictures, etc., into the "extended entry" area. Click "more" to see them.

UPDATE: Ray Patnaude, the graphics wizard from TechCentralStation, walked the two blocks or so to the demonstration and sends this report, along with the larger pictures displayed to the right:

Traffic was all screwed up. There were cops directing traffic everywhere, but it wasn't really moving much. This is common in DC what with anti war protests, Roe v. Wade protests, and whatnot all the time, so people were nice about it, Americans can sympathize with the Spanish, obviously. Although one guy in a car yelled out something like "I bet you didn't earn that bronze star!" I didn't see John Kerry there, so maybe that guy thought it was an anti-war rally. . . .

Lots of press coverage and cameras there. This is the embassy- note flag at half staff. Big line around the block to sign the condolences book.

People have asked me if I can recommend any charities that they can donate to online in support of the victims. I don't know of any, but I'll see what I can find out.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Still more images (including the one now up top), from a reader who didn't give his name. I've emailed asking how he/she would like to be credited. (And yes, this kind of thing is why I'm always evangelizing for digital cameras everywhere). [LATER: It's Bill from InDCJournal, and he's got more on his blog.]

MORE: Here's a short AP story about the demonstration. I couldn't find much about it on Google News.