The Words of the Weber Family
I remember the 1970's as being a very hectic time in our movement. We had Father's 21 and 32 city tours, the Madison Square Garden speech, the Yankee Stadium event, and then the Washington Monument speech. As a movement, we really worked hard. It was an unbelievable time!
When we witnessed for the 21 and 32 city tours, we were basically not very well known. We would invite people to hear Father, and people would ask who we were talking about. Many people had never heard of him. But, as word got out, persecution increased. We became known as "Moonies," and Father was accused of brainwashing the members. I remember that during these first tours, not very many people came to hear Father speak. Father sometimes spoke to only partially filled rooms.
Then the Madison Square Garden event came in New York City. We plastered every available space with posters advertising the speech. When the night came, I was one of the church photographers covering the event. I was amazed that the entire arena was filled!!! Then one person in the audience signaled for me to come over to him. He looked toward the exit and said, "Have you seen what it is like outside? It's a madhouse out there!!!" I worked my way to an exit and looked out. To my amazement, not only was the entire arena filled, but there were crowds of people outside who could not get in because it was so full!!! It was indeed a madhouse, and it was amazing!!!
I went back in and photographed the event with the other photographers. I was honored to have been able to get my parents in to see Father. They had come in with me and had gotten good seats.
Father had directed that after the speech all of the posters that we had put up in New York had to come down, and so a campaign was started going around New York and tearing down all the posters to leave the city clean from all the advertising of the event!!!
Then came the Yankee Stadium speech. But, during the set up for the event, we were hit with tornado like winds and a drenching rain. I remember starting to set up my camera equipment and looking up to see a wall of water in the form of rain headed my way across the stadium! I quickly closed up my equipment just in time. My equipment was safe, but I was getting drenched. The winds blew the decorations around, and it looked as if the speech would be rained out. Then groups of church members in the stadium started linking arms and singing "You Are My Sunshine!" Slowly the rains and the winds stopped, and the sun came out. (Some said that our singing drove the rain away. I don't know. But the rain and wind did stop.)
Could we still have the speech? It was decided to try plugging in the soaked sound system…and miraculously it worked! Decorations were put back out, and even though it was not the same as before, things looked amazingly good. People started coming in, and the entertainment and speech took place. Father declared the event a success.
The Washington Monument event was amazing. This was during the time when my wife and I were still going through a conditional period of separation. But she had come from California to Petersburg, Virginia to witness for the event and bring people from there. As a photographer, I got a chance to visit her in Petersburg while she was witnessing and I was covering what people were doing in different parts of the state.
Buses came from all over, and again, thousands of people came and filled the Monument grounds. I had a unique mission. I was assigned to stand on top of the Lincoln Memorial and photograph the fireworks that were launched after the speech. The security guard that let me up there said that once I was up there, I could not go down until everything was over! So, I did not get a chance to hear the speech directly. I did, however, see the movie that the church did of the event after things were over.
Yes, it was an incredible time, and it was very difficult! In one speech were Father was speaking to the members at this time, he said that he realized how difficult it was for us. He said, "If you cannot do anything else, just grab hold of me and hang on! If you cannot hang on to me, grab my coat and hang onto that! But, hang on and you will make it!!! I will bring you through everything!"
In all of the events, we worked as hard as we could, and we wondered if we would make it. But Father was always there on the front lines with us. While we witnessed for a few events during the 21 and 32 city tours, Father traveled and spoke in every city of the tours. Father spoke at Madison Square Garden, and at seven other cities. He spoke at Yankee Stadium and Washington Monument. In every case he was on the front lines with us working harder than we were!
Then he told those of us who were struggling to hang onto him and he would pull us through!
When I came into the Unification Church more that 40 years ago, I came to love and accept Father through the Divine Principle. Then I met and followed Father through many campaigns. Yes, it was very difficult following Father directly, and I did my share of hanging on.
In that time, people have commented on how much faith I have. Part of it has been that I am hanging on…and part of it is that I love True Parents very deeply.
These are just a few more of my experiences with Father.