PERRYSBURG - Saturday's Northwest Ohio Pro-Constitution Rally at Hood Park was not organized by veteran protestors, irate taxpayers or disgruntled citizens. Its sponsors were two young women in their 20s who want to preserve the future of America.
Sara (George) Lewis, 24, co-organizer with her friend, Adrianne Lee, 25, was pleased it turned out to be a positive event, one of their primary goals. "All of our speakers kept focused on the Constitution and focused on positive activities," said Lewis, adding, "We weren't here to complain. We were here to celebrate the Constitution."
She has attended two TEA party protests which were much larger, while Saturday's rally had a steady crowd of 100 during its two-hour length. "I think one of the differences with the TEA parties, they had an organization behind it, not just two people behind it," said Lewis. "This is an independent cause started by two citizens."
One reason they organized the rally is because "it just seems like people aren't aware what's going on, and people have stopped reading (the Constitution) and understanding what it means," Lewis said. "Even though we still are young we have our futures in mind. When we have children we want them to have the same quality of life and liberty we have today.
"It's looking in the future and making sure we preserve what we have."
When it concluded, her husband, Army Tech Sgt. Joe Lewis, stated, "I think after this people'll open their books and read the Constitution and find out what this is going on. ... I just hope people take action."
Many of the speakers interwove ways to take action within their speeches. Jeffery Webber, 37, a father of four and founder of Network 1776, (www.network1776.org) suggested, "Call radio stations. Start your own Web site. Start a MySpace page. Twitter. Do whatever you can do to make your voice be heard."
Webber brought a huge American flag which he found in a gutter, frozen and tied to a 2-by-4. He had two volunteers hold it up so the audience could see how battered it was. Then Webber had the men turn it upside down.
"This reminded me about our country," he stated, noting its tears, rips and holes. When it was upside down he continued, "This represents our country in distress. America's back is against the wall. Nobody thinks they can make a difference. We can't do it one at a time. We have to do it together and make a stand."
He referenced speaker Scott Allegrini who started Children of Liberty. "There are groups out there. (Or) start your own. We're running out of time. Start doing your research."
Guests heard about a rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 12, as well as a class on the Constitution which speaker Ken Matesz will teach in October in Perrysburg. In addition, after the event, attendee Sue Goliver mentioned We By For (the People), a brand new organization which is attempting to preserve the country as a constitutional republic.
Speakers addressed issues such as why the Constitution was written, economic freedom, freedom of speech, the right to bear arms and the cost of freedom.
Co-organizer Lee welcomed the audience. "We gather today to celebrate nothing short of a miracle: The Constitution." She noted the country's Founding Fathers "certainly did not want us controlled by a Nanny State. We are paying attention."
Speaker Joel Rossol said the Founding Fathers understood negative rights, writing into the Constitution what Congress cannot do to impinge upon the rights citizens have.
The youngest speaker, Raymond George, 17, spoke about the Second Amendment's right to bear arms and asked, "If (it) is nullified by some form of law, what's there to stop other amendments from being changed? What about freedom of speech? ... If you start, where will it stop?"
Iraqi War veteran Corey LeRoux announced, "I learned what happens to a country, a people, that do not have a Constitution. Imagine your children playing in a street where a foreign army patrols it, and a bomb can go off. ... It means we must stand together, that with faith with a loud enough voice we can take action, turn our flag the right side up."
Front page caption: David and Deb Putano sit and listen to the speakers. (Andrew Weber/Sentinel-Tribune)