Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thomas L. Washington - American

There is much talk and great debate these days concerning the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution.  Almost no one knows the reason it is there and shall remain. 

Tom Washington was a true friend of everyone in Michigan. For decades he was the reason that the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) even existed. He was a lifetime advocate of the wise use of our natural resources and in his capacity as  Executive Director of MUCC Tom almost single handedly was responsible for initiating and getting  "The Bottle Bill"  issue on the Michigan ballot in the 1976 election.  It passed and as a result vacuumed the state of throwaway carbonated beverage container trash..

I was proud to work with Tom and the team that helped to win the vote and pass the issue. Tom was personally responsible for much of what Michigan Outdoors is today. We worked together on many other issues.  I  MCd MUCC's Outdorrama Show and handled the advertising and marketing for him nearly 15 years.  He was the definition of an outdoors man and a Constitutional scholar. I once asked Tom what was the purpose of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.

He answered: "Simple Lee,  the purpose is to protect us from the Federal Government".

In a pamphlet urging ratification of the Constitution and of the 2nd amendment Noah Webster said:

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe."

In a widely reprinted article by Tench Coxe, an ally and correspondent of James Madison, he described the Second Amendment's overriding goal:

"as a check upon the national government's standing army: As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms."

For many years as a conservation leader Tom Washington was a member of the NRA.. There came a time in the mid 1990s  when he actually became the President of the NRA. He was a moderating, level headed voice and influence in the organization.

In May of 1995 it was Tom who received the letter from former President George Herbert Walker Bush resigning from the NRA. In the letter President Bush said in part:

"I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as "jack-booted thugs. To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms and wanting to attack law abiding citizens is a vicious slander on good people."

Although the letter was written in the first week of May it was published in the newspapers on May 11, 1995.  Read the entire letter  Here

Tom Washington, whose unpaid N.R.A. position was largely honorary, was not always as outspoken as some N.R.A. members would have liked.  Some would say he was a moderating voice.  Still, he did his duty. As President of the NRA it was Tom's  task to answer the former President and point out  the reasons for the NRA rhetoric and government's vicious intrusion time and time again on innocent people. Thus demonstrating the purpose and reasons behind the framers of the 2nd amendment.

Thomas L. Washington will forever be known for his eloquent, pointed, yet respectful answer to former President Bush.

This was his letter:   The Letter

P.S.  Tom Washington lived in Lansing, 70 miles from Southfield, Michigan. He had never met my mother or father. During the memorial service for my Dad when I lost him in March of 1985 I turned around to look at those attending.  There,  at the back of the church all by himself was Tom.  Six weeks later when my mother passed there was a memorial at the same church.  There,  in the same seat in the back was Tom. 

Six months after his reply to the former president while hunting with his son in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan my friend suffered a heart attack that a few weeks later took his life. He was 58 years old. I spoke through tears at his funeral in Lansing, Michigan.  May God Bless him in Heaven.