The invitation arrived via e-mail with a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln: "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer."
The invitation offered free barbecue and beer at a nearby home in Atlanta.
In Georgia, where we take our barbecue and our beer seriously, this was an invitation that would be hard to refuse. The event was put on by a group of concerned citizens not affiliated with any party or organization, just citizens who decided they were worried enough about the current state of our nation to take action.
It was held on Sunday afternoon, in a private backyard festooned with red, white and blue balloons tied to the mailbox and spinning in the breeze. Homemade signs greeted my husband, two children and I, as we walked up the driveway and onto a large, covered front porch. Made from poster board, the signs resembled a school project more than a polished political message, but somehow that made them appear more effective.
The crowd was mixed in age; with about a dozen children running about and playing on the backyard swing set. My husband estimates that there were about 100 attendees in all.
When asked about the signs, one of the hosts said that each of the 10 couples on the host committee had been asked to make a sign. They each invited friends and helped cover the costs.
After mingling for 30 minutes or so, three speakers talked for just a few minutes each. The first, a doctor, addressed health care "reform." The second, a financier, addressed government spending. I was the third, closing with American history.
While the other two speakers were up, I, my children and the other people sat on folding chairs or on the grass -- truly a grass-roots event.
The doctor talked about the recently passed health care bill and predicted it would lead to rationing and worse care; the financier described the exploding deficit and predicted higher interest rates. The longer they talked, the more the people in the crowd began frowning and shaking their heads.
When it was my turn, I looked out and saw their faces, concerned but determined, and I realized that they all had all turned out not to support a candidate or a party or even a grass-roots organization, but to show their love for -- and support for -- America.
For the past few months, I have been reading background and researching for my upcoming book, "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches that Every American Should Read" (Regnery, November 2010).