Have you been watching the 9-11 anniversary programs? I have. They remind me of several things. My Uncle Patrick Mahon, for one. Uncle Pat and I watched MAS*H reruns every day at 4:00 when I was a kid. We met at my Aunt Mame’s house (unwed sister to Pat and my mom). Uncle Pat drank coffee—usually black with sugar—and smoked unfiltered cigarettes.
Uncle Pat retired from the St. Louis Fire Department in about 1976 (rough guess). He’d risen to Battalion Chief. Like most retired firemen, Pat remained active in the union and guided many, many younger fire fighters. The fire department—its history, its nobility, and its future—were true loves.
So was the military. Pat was a WWII veteran. He served the entire length of that great war, and on both coasts. He was Chief Petty Officer not long into the war, having enlisted before Pearl Harbor. He honored those who served and cherish the flag and the nation we protected.
In WWII, Pat was an Aviation Radioman. Flight fascinated him. He flew Catalinas and other Navy planes all around the Pacific. Whenever there was an air show, Pat was there. When Scott Air Force Base opened up to the public, Pat took us. He marveled at the power and elegance of human flight, especially military air power.
Uncle Pat passed away almost exactly one year prior to 9/11/2001. Had he been around a year later, he’d have been glued to the television as his three great passions in life—aviation, fire fighting, and national defense—converged in the American psyche like never before.
With the memory of 9-11 fresh in our minds, now is the perfect time to begin the next phase of the Tea Party movement.
On Thursday, September 15, at 7 pm, St. Louis Tea Party Coalition embarks in the next phase of the war for American greatness. We will begin a 12-month program to repair the fabric of American society.
Those who attend our first meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Clayton will receive a commemorative button. You will be the pioneers of this next wave.
You will also be the leaders of a new units of community. These units will not be overtly political. They will be social. And civic. They will make all of us a better team.
Over the next 12 months, we get closer to each other. We will prepare ourselves for the next crisis and the next opportunity. We will reduce our reliance on the federal government and increase our faith in ourselves and each other.
Were Uncle Pat here today, he’d be so proud of this St. Louis Tea Party Coalition. And he’d deliver a warning, subtly, kindly: “You can never let this country be unprepared again.”
We won’t, Uncle Pat. Following your example, we shall prepare, and we will prevail.
(Photo: My mom, Gini, with her brother, then CPO Patrick J. Mahon Sr., taken sometime between Pearl Harbor and VJ Day.)