Paul  Weyrich

In 1972 I was introduced to a young man from Indiana who had been brought to Washington to become Executive Director of the American Conservative Union (ACU). I found Larry Pratt to be a man of character and principle, and one with whom it was easy to work. We got along very well. Indeed many people confused him with me and vice versa. I recall a prominent Member of the House of Representatives taking me aside and whispering the strategy he and others had come up with to win on the gun issue. He treated this conversation as an extension of an earlier conversation off the House Floor. The problem was I had had no such conversation with this Member. He thought he was speaking with Larry Pratt.

During the 1972 Republican Convention in Miami Beach, Florida I was having breakfast with Dan Thomason of Scripps Howard when along came a gaggle of young kids. I heard one of them telling their mother excitedly, "There's Daddy"! I turned to Dan and said, "Honestly I've never seen these children in my life." The children drew closer and closer waving their arms and saying "Daddy, we love you. We miss you." Then as one of the older children came within 15 feet of where I was seated he let out a scream and proclaimed, "That's not daddy!"

Later that day Larry Pratt and I teamed up to work on the effort by liberals to change the delegate structure of the Convention, to accord more power to liberal states. In fact, over the years I could count the instances with one hand in which Larry Pratt and I have been on opposite sides. I was pleased many years ago to commend Larry to my long time friend, California State Senator Bill Richardson, Chairman of Gun Owners of America. He and Larry hit it off. Indeed, Larry has worked for Gun Owners, running its Washington Area office for some 30 years. I guess we have been together hundreds of times on issues facing America.

I mention all of this as background for the real purpose of this commentary. Thursday my wife Joyce and I set out for Springfield, Virginia and the Harvest Presbyterian Church, which is about 45 minutes from our home. But for my handicapped permit I would have had to walk a fair way as the Church already was crowded when we arrived. Soon thereafter several school rooms were used for the overflow crowds. The school rooms were equipped with television so people could watch the service. You see, the funeral service was in loving memory of Luke Pratt, who missed his second birthday by a few days because he drowned in a backyard pool. Still pictures and videotape were shown of precious little Luke. Luke's father is Eric Pratt, who often represented Larry Pratt at our Coalitions meetings. Eric and his wife Stacy have nine other children, including a newborn.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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