Every year The Valley Patriot holds an annual BASH Scholarship and Award Night where we give out college scholarships to high school students and awards for community heroes.
Last week’s BASH was the first event in three years because of the COVID hysteria and lockdowns.
Titled “The Official Kickoff of the Return to Normal”, hundreds of people crowded into the Reliefs In (in Lawrence) in what some said was the largest gathering in the Merrimack Valley since the 2020 lockdowns.
“This BASH is a night of amnesty” Valley Patriot publisher Tom Duggan told the crowd.
“This is a night where we put aside our personal and political differences and come together to help good people in the community who make personal sacrifices to help others.”
Duggan pointed out that nearly a third of the people he recognized from the podium either didn’t like him or were political adversaries.
“So, some of you here don’t like me, you don’t like my views, or you don’t like my newspaper, yet you are here. You are here because you are mature enough to put aside your egos, and our differences to help others. I think that says a lot! We should also look around and notice who’s not here tonight. They are the haters. They are the ones who care more about their images and their egos than they care about helping high school kids pay for their education.”
By the end of the night, The Valley Patriot gave away more than $33,000 in college scholarships, gave away awards to two Lawrence Police Officers, three Lawrence Firefighters, three homeless advocates with a community service award, and two hero veterans who not only went off and served their country, but then came back and continued serving their community by helping veterans in need.
“This is not about me, please don’t thank me,” Duggan told the crowd.
“I make no money on this newspaper, and I couldn’t afford to give to any of the scholarships. But a wealthy friend of mine once told me you don’t need to have money to do good things in the community, you just have to know people who have money.”
“And I know, well … you guys,” he said pointing to the crowd as they roared with laughter.
“Because of you, not because of me, eight kids tonight are a lot closer to getting a college education.”
“And I want to say one more thing. The national media narrative about America being a racist country is a lie.”
“Not one person called me and said they would like to donate to a scholarship, but they wanted to know the color of someone’s skin first. Not one person said they wanted to know the sexual preference of any of the recipients, or their country of origin, or their religious, or political views.”
“Remember that when you get to college and your professors start to tell you that America is an evil racist place based on discrimination.”
Remember that you started your college career because dozens of people in this community, people of every race, religion, and sexual preference, donated their hard-earned money for your education and most of them don’t even know you.”
We never could have imagined after the COVID hysteria, the lockdowns, and the misinformation about COVID that we would ever get back to normal. But here we are.
And if anyone you know has any doubts at all, you just tell them to come to the Valley Patriot’s 19th Anniversary BASH next year. ◊