Gerritson honored at celebrationPublished 10:17am Monday, July 15, 2013
Wetumpka’s Becky Gerritson has become a folk hero for people across the country in the past few weeks. Her impassioned and eloquent June 4 testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee concerning the IRS and its treatment of the Wetumpka Tea Party catapulted her into the national spotlight.
Since her rise to rock-star status during the Washington, D.C. hearings, Gerritson has been in constant demand by conservative groups and media outlets of all types.
But Thursday night she was in the community she calls home, surrounded by those who have known her since she and her husband, Eric, founded the Wetumpka Tea Party in 2009.
The occasion was a “Job Well Done” celebration organized by Frank Vawter and others in recognition of Gerritson’s efforts. More than 500 people gathered in the Wetumpka Civic Center to offer appreciation and applause.
“It’s all Eric’s fault I’m here,” she said, referencing her husband. “He got me into this.
“Somehow this happy little Alabama housewife was caught up in the middle of something big. My little testimony seemed to have struck a chord with a lot of people across the country. My only hope is that I represented you well.”
Gerritson said the acclaim she received mystified her at first. She didn’t understand why people were happy when she was reporting that the IRS was involved in questionable activities and practices.
“I realized they were just happy that someone was fighting back. They felt hope when they saw little old me fighting back and even getting in a punch or two.”
She said she has received hundreds of emails containing positive comments about her testimony.
“I’m delighted to have so many people feel the same way I do,” said Gerritson. “This experience has reminded me of something I sometimes forget – Americans can overcome anything.”
During the celebration, Gerritson was presented with a resolution from the Alabama Legislature. Sen. Dick Brewbaker read the resolution, which he co-sponsored along with Sen. Bryan Taylor and Sen. Jerry Fielding.
“She is a shining example of citizens’ rights and duties in this country,” he read. “She brought great credit to herself with her leadership.”
California comedian and author Eric Golub was the guest speaker at the event.
“The fact is, our freedoms are under assault,” he said. “But we’ve got some heroes in this room. Let me say, you aren’t a threat to democracy Mrs. Gerritson – you are democracy.”
Vawter, who emceed the program, said he set up a bank account to accept contributions to pay for the celebration. It was then, he said, he realized that Gerritson and the WTP paid the expenses of her travels.
“The donations came is so strongly for this that it is paid for and there is money left over to help pay for some travel expenses for Becky,” he said. “We’re still collecting money to help with those expenses.”
Vawter noted that the evening’s celebration was lived streamed to Tea Party groups around the country, as well as streamed on the Washington Times site.
“There were some interesting things happening here today to make that happen,” he said.
Gerritson said she’s uncomfortable with the praise she’s drawn, noting that local Tea Party actions are a group effort.
“It’s up to all of us to get involved and keep volunteering,” she said. “We need to take back our country.
“In my mind, the purpose of the Tea Party is to neuter the federal government, to restore federalism and bring decisions back closer to home.
“We are not serfs. We are not vassals. They are not our lords. The founding fathers gave us a republic and it’s up to us to keep it.”