Story by ALICIA LEONARD
The weather didn’t steep the close to 50-person crowd of people that showed up at the Life Enrichment Senior Center to discuss their unhappiness with the present government.
“I thought with the weather and everything we might have a smaller crowd, but I am amazed and happy at the turnout we have tonight. It shows that America is alive and well in DeFuniak Springs,” said Walton County Tea Party Patriot co-organizer Mary Brown to the applause of the attending crowd.
The first thing Brown and co-organizer Bob Sullivan noted was the age of the majority of those attending. “Where are the young people? We need to reach them, so they can hear what we are talking about. Us old people are not the ones who will have to maintain America the way it has been,” said Brown, who urged attendees to bring kids and grandkids to the next meeting and to spread the word about the meeting to others. “I will no longer be politically correct. It’s my freedom to say what I want to say. We cannot allow others to shut us down. Our numbers need to grow.”
The crowd was well-behaved overall, and spoke out against government spending, gun-owner restrictions, healthcare reform, and illegal immigration. Some voiced ideas about secret armies, the collapse of government and recommendations by family members that were “CIA” to stockpile guns, cash and materials. Brown, Sullivan and an audience member cautioned the audience in general about the need to remain rational and organized in order to grow and for their concerns to be heard by their government representatives.
Brown brought a slew of printed materials and pocket copies of the U.S. Constitution with her for the audience. She described herself as an ordinary person with a deep love of her country. “I was raised to love my country. I’ve raised my children and grandchildren the same way and I don’t think there is enough patriotism and history being taught and I felt a need to share that with other people.”
She cautioned the audience of the need for research on what they read on-line or hear. “There are so many sites on the Internet. You have to be careful to check that what you are reading is accurate. You need to double-check those sources.”
Brown told the group that not all of their government representatives have responded to their request to be heard. “We tried to hog-tie Allen Boyd to a town hall-style meeting with us after his forum. We wanted an open meeting. When he got our request he canceled his forum and said he would meet with us before there is a vote on the healthcare [legislation].”
Sullivan echoed Brown’s thoughts and added,”Why doesn’t everyone bring one of your kids or grandkids with you next time? What duty is more pressing that of educating our young people? If we are going to do anything tonight, it’s to resolve to double the crowd with young people. It’s important to keep this alive and growing. They don’t teach Civics in school anymore. We have to get this information out to people who are old enough to vote, so we can turn this country around in the 2010 elections.”
Brown informed the group that there is a planned march in Washington D.C., on Sept. 12 that “will be a reflection in the Tea Party movement that will be a nationwide rally.” A local rally is scheduled for the same day in Fort Walton Beach at Liza Jackson park, starting at 10 a.m.
The group is working on an executive committee to become more organized and grow in the area. They hold meetings on the second Thursday of every month at the South Walton Costal Branch library and will be meeting in the DeFuniak area on the fourth Thursday of every month. Similar groups have been formed from Pensacola to Panama City. Mary Brown can be contacted at (850) 835-2859 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Alicia Leonard can be contacted at email@example.com
Story by ALICIA LEONARD