Over 200 people attended the largest ever Florida Veterans for Common Sense (FLVCS) annual celebration of founding patriot, Thomas Paine’s birthday, on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at the IMG Academy Golf Club in Bradenton, FL. Music was provided by the Herb Silverstein Jazz Trio.
The party celebrated the legacy of Founding Father and veteran Thomas Paine. His short book, Common Sense, changed the American rebellion into a revolution for political independence and outlined our American form of government. General Washington requested Paine write the Crisis Papers and ordered them read to the troops after the defeat at New York. Paine’s stirring words, “These are the times that try men’s souls…” lifted the troops’ moral and turned the tide toward victory. As the founders acknowledged, “Without the pen of Paine, Washington would have wielded his sword in vain.”
Paine was a capitalist entrepreneur, but always championed the rights of the poor, enslaved, and downtrodden. He was the first to suggest social security and an endowment for young people to have a start in life financed by a tax on property. He was also a strong advocate for equal rights for women.
The keynote speaker was Jim Hightower, a National Public Radio Commentator, writer, and New York Times bestselling author. Hightower engaged the crowd with home-spun Texas humor and incisive commentary on current events.
Each year, FLVCS awards The Thomas Paine Award to a citizen who advances the promise of America by the hard work to make our communities, state, and nation better following Thomas Paine’s legacy.
Kindra Muntz received this year’s Thomas Paine Award. She is president of Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE) that promotes election reform, campaign finance reform, and single member county commission districts. Thanks in a large part to Kindra, we have verified voting in Florida. In addition, she has headed up the statewide organization Unitarian Universalist Justice Florida which promotes justice, equity and compassion in public policy.
Anthony Hardie, Executive Director of Veterans for Common Sense, received the Beyond the Call Award. His efforts have help thousands of disabled and wounded veterans obtain the benefits they earned. His efforts focus particularly on those suffering from toxic wounds as a result of combat.
The net proceeds from the party benefit Florida Veterans for Common Sense Fund, Inc. (FLVCS FUND) a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, non-partisan organization. FLVCS FUND working with FLVCS has helped initiate major projects such as Courts Assisting Veterans, Sarasota’s Stand Down for Homeless Veterans, and Green Path Veterans Farms. Ongoing projects are a social entrepreneurial project, Veterans in Focus, an initiative to house homeless veterans, and an urban reforestation project.