WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Many participants in the "Let Freedom Ring" 50th anniversary commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington never made it anywhere near the Lincoln Memorial or reflecting pool because of frustration with long security lines, stifling humidity and heat.
"It wasn't like this in '63," said a disappointed Vernon Fitzhugh, 73, of Springfield, Va. "There has to be a better way than this."
Fitzhugh was a veteran of the first March in 1963, but after two hours of waiting in a large crowd at a U.S. Secret Service checkpoint on 17th St. across from the World War II Memorial, he was forced to give up. WUSA9 found him sitting in the grass trying to recover.
Dozens of people overcome by humidity and heat while waiting at the checkpoint were treated by paramedics. Mass casualty ambulances and Metro buses were brought in as cooling centers.
In a written statement, U.S. Secret Service Spokesman Brian Leary said: "We are aware of the delays and are working diligently to process people as quickly as possible through the checkpoints. We and our partners always encourage people attending these events to arrive early and to limit the number of personal items they are carrying to make the lines move faster."