Members and friends’ spirits were soaring — like eagles — Monday night at the Savannah Center, as The Villages Tea Party celebrated the November election results at its annual pot luck dinner.
“We are here to give praise and thanks, and to celebrate all our hard work and efforts for America,” Tea Party President Aileen Milton said jubilantly to the happy crowd of about 150 red, white and blue clad people. “We made great strides on November 4,” Aileen asserted to applause, “getting conservative candidates elected and gaining control of Congress. We are on our way to getting our country back on track — back in touch with the values and principles on which our forefathers founded this great nation.”
“Tomorrow is Veterans’ Day,” Aileen continued, “and we are here to pay homage and to thank our military veterans for their service — for keeping our country free. Today is also the 239th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.” Villager Lamar Young read a poem, a prayer and led the pledge of allegiance. The group sang ‘God Bless America’ in unison.
State Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) attended the event with his wife, Jeanne, and thanked Tea Party members for their hard work manning phone banks and going door-to-door to get Gov. Rick Scott re-elected. :We still have a lot of work to do between now and 2016,” Hays said, “but I am confident we will accomplish what we set out to do.”
Hays, who resides in Umatilla, has been a state senator from the 11th district, which stretches from Ocala to Clermont, since 2012. Born in Henderson, Kentucky, Hays moved to Florida in 1950 and is a dentist. He has been a member of Congress since 2004.
Carol and Scott McCorkle, Directors of the Avian Reconditioning Center in Apopka, brought Isaiah, a live bald eagle nicknamed ‘Ike’ to the party. The official Villages Tea Party photographer, Mark Prater, had a lot of takers when he offered to take peoples’ pictures with the large bird for a small donation.
“Ike is ten years old,” Carol McCorkle said. “He was injured in his nest when he was only eight weeks of age. He is unable to fly, and cannot be returned to the wild. He serves as an education ambassador and lives in a safe environment at our center.”
Eagles are both the official bird and official animal of the United States. They build the largest tree nests of any animal species — up to 13 feet deep, more than 8 feet wide, and can weigh upwards of a ton. Eagles were found to be on the brink of extinction but recovered. They were removed from the Federal government’s endangered species list in 1995 and removed from the threatened species list in 2007.
A thirty year veteran of military service, Joy Selph, from the Village of Duval, enjoyed having her photo taken with Ike. Selph served nine years in the Air Force and 21 years in the Army. She carries ‘Buffy,’ a chihuahua, with her wherever she goes. Buffy is her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) therapy dog.
After dinner, a colorful Elvis made a live appearance. A Pennecamp Villager, Rob Lewis as Elvis sang about a dozen favorites. He received the most applause for his rendition of ‘The Wonder of You.’
Mallory Square Villager, Elaine Mysliwiec, enjoyed the evening. She served in the U.S. Navy nurse corps. for 2 1/2 years and as a flight nurse in the U.S. Air Force an additional 22 years — with tours in the Vietnam and Gulf Wars.
“I’ve been involved in the Tea Party for a couple of years,” Mysliwiec said. “It’s purpose is to educate people with regard to important issues. It is a very misunderstood group which prompts a lot of over-reaction on the part of citizens who don’t know what the party represents. They are for lower taxes, smaller government and they support the U.S. Constitution. I would like to see the liberals and conservatives work together in our government. United we stand, divided we fall,” she continued, “and we have a president who is doing his darnedest to destroy this country. We have the enemy in the White House, and he is destroying our military.”
The Villages Tea Party Core Values include fiscal responsibility; Constitutionally limited government; free markets, and individual freedom. For more information, visit the villagesteaparty.org.