The convention convened at 8 a.m. on July 3rd. The compressed, two-day agenda didn’t allow for leisurely noon start times. By 3 p.m., the procedural business was completed, nominations had been made, and the Armistead–Francis ticket was settled by acclamation.
During the afternoon and evening’s entertainment activities, the families of overseas servicemen and women replaced the delegates in the up-front seating. TV links were established with as many overseas bases as could be arranged. As the entertainment progressed, camera crews in Atlanta and around the world allowed thousands of soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines, and their families to catch a glimpse of each other.
For over three hours, joy and tears filled the giant screens positioned around the Lakewood Amphitheater and millions of TVs around the country. One network cut away, but the other networks stayed with coverage, offering little commentary. The display of emotion captured viewers, who watched in record numbers.
The July 4th convention agenda was equally unique. Armistead delivered his acceptance speech at 4 p.m., not wanting to interfere with the thousands of celebrations planned all over the country that evening. At his insistence, the crowd was encouraged to bring a picnic. Though the coolers and picnic baskets drove the security people crazy, the expansive lawn and design of the seating were well suited to accommodate the largest Fourth of July picnic in the country.
When Armistead stepped on the stage of the amphitheater, the temperature was ninety-four degrees and there was a breeze. He wore khaki pants, a white shirt, and a red tie. There was no podium or teleprompter. A US flag and flags from each of the fifty states were the only trappings on the stage.
As he was welcomed by the crowd, Armistead looked out over the scene and was overcome with emotion. He saw billowing red-white-and- blue sun canopies, hundreds of American and state flags, brightly colored picnic blankets, and children romping around paying absolutely no attention. Thousands of citizens were in front of him—not to honor him but to hear his message. Their hope was that Armistead would help them to restore a country envisioned by the fifty-six patriots who had signed the Declaration of Independence two hundred thirty-six years ago . . . today.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish