A Meeting with Glenn Beck – The 5 Year Anniversary of The 9/12 Project
On March 13th, 2014, The 9/12 Project will mark the 5th anniversary of its national rollout on Fox News.
The leaders of our own South Florida 9/12 group have met recently to share thoughts of where we have been, what difference we have made, and where to direct our efforts in the year ahead. Interestingly, other 9/12 leaders around the country have been leading similar discussions… including no less than the one conservative commentator who drew so many of us together in the first place.
A couple weeks ago, on short notice, my wife Shannon and I were delighted and truly humbled to receive an unexpected invitation to be studio guests of The Glenn Beck Program. (How could we say “no”…?!)
The staff of The Blaze made quick accomodations to ensure we were able to join Glenn on-the-air in Dallas, Texas to mark the 5th Anniversary of “3/13” – the hour of television in 2009 that inspired the grassroots movement that changed so many lives around the country… including mine, and perhaps yours.
Our own local meetup group in South Florida began simply, in response to Glenn’s Fox News segments titled “WE SURROUND THEM” – a series of televised shows urging Americans with traditional values to bond together, to restore the principles and values of our nation’s Founding Fathers back to the halls of government. These nightly glimpses into the past crossroads of America’s history profoundly impacted my family.
Glenn Beck felt the weight of this time in our history bring him to literal tears on-the-air that special night on March 13th, and after a substantial hour of reflection on American exceptionalism, the news program came to an end. Suddenly – that crowd of several hundred emotional (and inspired!) citizens in a suburban Lake Worth restaurant pressed my wife and I eagerly, and with heartfelt urgently – “NOW WHAT?”… “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?”… “WHAT’S NEXT?”
Shannon and I *HAD* no ‘masterplan’ for “*BEYOND* 3/13″… we were just a family working hard, trying to love and support one another, and raise our children to become principled adults one day. And yet, we felt as all of you did “after Glenn”. We all felt compelled by our OWN tears, our OWN observation of unthinkable government bailouts, our OWN marginalization by the media and our contemporary culture…
“The South Florida 9/12 Project” was born that day. We didn’t know ‘how’, ‘where’, ‘what’, ‘when’… but we knew ‘WHY’.
Glenn told us on the air that the purpose of this project he envisioned was “to bring us all back to the place we were on September 12th, 2001″ (the day after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on 9/11)… we were not obsessed with red states, blue states, or political parties. We were united as *AMERICANS* – standing together to protect the values and principles of the greatest nation ever created.”
And so it began. “Grassroots organizing.”
My wife, my partner, and my best friend – “all-in-one”! – Shannon (the hardest typing and picture-posting and email responding fingers to blaze the movement!) also believed in the “WHY” – and tried to make a difference from a laptop on our kitchen table (nightly!). Thanks to Glenn’s show helping to partner us up with some REALLY good people to get the heavy lifting done – we turned frustration, into seed… and seed into fruit. (And all while keeping full-time jobs, AND raising children, AND staying plugged in to church – whew!) It WAS hard, it WAS painful… yet it equally was joyful, and it was uplifting – to know that WE WERE NOT ALONE.
I didn’t KNOW what to expect after that first meetup; did any of us?
But what I certainly NEVER expected (and was blessed to witness), was no less than the spiritual and patriotic renewal of every member of my family. As “Nana” Hazel Kaye, my own sweet grandmother (rest in peace, Nana!) used to smile and tell me: “IF GOD IS ‘FOR’ US – WHO CAN BE ‘AGAINST’ US?”
Without God, there would be no “South Florida 9/12” left after 5 years. It has swollen, it has shrunk, it has expanded, and it has rested – but somehow, God always brings us back into the ring when we hear the bell chime!
For *EACH* of you who supported the South Florida 9/12 group, or any one of the causes we have rallied behind, over the last 5 years – THANK YOU.
I sincerely believe that a moment like this invitation to The Glenn Beck Program only came because of the steadfast and repeated support, hard work, and encouragement of people like *YOU*.
“Shannon and Doug Armstrong” would be a lonely proposition, if it were just the two of us. But when our numbers coalesce together – what an IMPACT you can make in your town, in your county, even in your home state of Florida, and believe it or not – in our very COUNTRY, yes.
Glenn Beck invited the two of us to come to Dallas to celebrate the 5-year existence of “The 9/12 Project”, really, to represent the tireless work and the beliefs of individuals like *YOU* (and you surely know who you are), who “MADE” the South Florida 9/12 a valid vehicle for community involvement – even in the ill-reputed “Corruption County.”
(REMEMBER: It was only in the year 2000, that the media of the ***WORLD*** descended upon Palm Beach County, Florida to observe the tense outcome of an entire PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION… as it literally hinged upon every single one of our votes. People do NOTICE what happens in elections down here…!)
FAST-FORWARD: Dallas, Texas – last Thursday morning. As Shannon and I prepare to depart our hotel, I crack open the Gideon’s Bible for a random thought… Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
A quick drive later leads us through a *massive*, sprawling complex of film studio buildings labelled Mercury Studios. Finally, our destination! Inside the lobby of The Blaze network, the lobby makes an immediate impression: A large “graffiti art”-styled newspaper mural on the wall depicts a massive “mainstream media” suited figure (with a collage of words for a body, and a head comprised of “The New York Times” script), with a raised leg and shoe – preparing to stomp down upon a considerably smaller suited figure, with the red logo of “The Blaze” for a head – but grasping an outstretched slingshot upward at the opposition. Nearby, looms this bold statement: “David slew GOLIATH with five smooth stones.”
Indeed!!! What a marvelous first impression of the network’s facilities.
Friendly staff usher Shannon and me to the bowels of this film studio – and it is fun. My wife spots a cart of wardrobe clothing, featuring several of Glenn’s well-known pairs of Converse “Chuck Taylor” All-Stars footwear. A large display of film-history knick-knackery is displayed in a nearby audience area: A red carpet… a movie marquee… a lifesize gold Oscar statuette… the full helmet and costume from Disney’s THE ROCKETEER… a silver mold of the carbonite-encased likeness of Han Solo from STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.
The effect of this breaks me into a giant smile. The minds behind this upstart network clearly keep a serious sense of purpose, yet lay comfortably in bed beside the nostalgic sense of cultural fun and awe that makes American life so satisfying.
A few minutes taken in the wardrobe & makeup room, and the guests are ready for the lights. Microphones are outfitted. Time to go…
The producers lead us past a large robot prop from Glenn’s ambitious “Man In The Moon” production staged in Salt Lake City, Utah last July… and into Studio “B”. As we take our seats, about 10 feet in front of us, a lone wooden desk in an industrial steampunk motif has the letters “GB” easily visible – with a black suited man leaning over it (back towards us) with a familiar silver hairline…
It is Glenn Beck. For easily 10 minutes or so, we hardly see the suit wrinkle – the commentator studiously purveys his notes, hand-writes changes, and whispers to an assistant who comes and goes from his side.
Suddenly, Glenn turns around with a relaxed demeanor and disarming smile, and greets each of his invited guests with a handshake.
To my left, a large teleprompter correctly forecasts the first words to be spoken on-the-air this afternoon: “Hello America. Welcome to The Glenn Beck Program, and The Blaze…”
It was an incredible honor, and a memorable experience. The rest is history… tune into the blaze in the archives and watch the special for Thursday March 6th 912 Anniversary Special and around minute 42 you get to hear Shannon talk and view me with my glasses right to behind her and to the side.
South Florida 912 was honored that day. Thank you all for the hardwork and dedication to the Principles and Values that this group was founded on.
May we continue to live it out in all we do. Being a 912 person is not just a meeting or a club, its a way we treat our neighbor, its how we vote, pray, and love each other. Wether you still attend meetings or we only see you at the polls when we vote, or at church when we pray,
stand a little taller and know that you are a part of something historic.
- At the Studio
- Shannon and Glenn
- Let's Get this Party Started!