The Thomas Paine Birthday Celebration Brings Great Progress for the Statue Project!

Almost 1,000 people registered for the Thomas Paine Zoom event that took place on Saturday, January 29, 2022, The event was created to celebrate the birthdate of the often forgotten Founding Father. The January 29th event was, as far as we know, the very first Zoom celebration of his birth. People joined in from all over the world and everyone was invited to toast in celebration of the life and work of Thomas Paine — an amazing champion of reason, independent thought, and revolutionary ideas.

The event was presented by the newly formed Thomas Paine Memorial Association (TPMA), a 501(c)3 organization, with the purpose of educating the public and installing statues of Thomas Paine in Washington, D.C. and other places of significance in the life of Thomas Paine. TPMA, the American Humanist Association (AHA), Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF),  Freethought Society (FS), Stiefel Freethought Foundation (SFF), and the Center for Inquiry (CFI) cosponsored the event.

The Zoom technician was Emily Newman. She is the Senior Education Coordinator at AHA’s Center for Education. Independent video editor Buck Bowen provided help with music and other submitted videos. James Phetteplace from FFRF assisted by providing much needed pre-event IT services.

The program opened with welcome messages from TPMA board members, including John de Lancie, Julia Sweeney, Gary Berton, Ann Druyan, Marnie Mosiman de Lancie,
Christopher Cameron, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Thomas Legg, and Robyn Blumner.

During the program, Todd Stiefel announced that SFF would triple donations. The opportunity created great interest and attendees donated generously. The triple match donation offer lasted until midnight. $30,000 was raised for the project, but with the SFF triple match the donations increased to $90,000. Thanks to an additional large monetary pledge from SFF, TPMA is pleased to announce that the January effort generated almost $500,000! The Washington, D.C. statue project is now fully funded. Future donations to TPMA will fund a statue maintenance plan and other projects to honor Paine’s life and legacy.

Actor and TPMA board member Ian Ruskin spoke about his experiences portraying Paine. Ruskin also talked about his one-man play, To Begin the World Over Again: The Life of Thomas Paine. He shared photos of various appearances that included an overview of his “Walk in the Footsteps of Thomas Paine” tour in England. During that trip Ruskin performed in the towns of Thetford, Diss, and Lewes.

TPMA President Margaret Downey talked about the many Paine related activities she has sponsored, including her “Walk in the Footsteps of Thomas Paine” in Paris, France. She showed photos of events sponsored by FS, including four “The Life and Work of Thomas Paine” elementary school assemblies.

Commissioned sculptor Zenos Frudakis joined the festivities from his studio in Glenside, Pennsylvania. The Frudakis Studio is filled with examples of past commissions, ongoing projects, and ideas for future sculpting projects.

Remarks were delivered by Congressman Jamie Raskin, who announced his intention to present a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would provide government endorsement for the placement of a Thomas Paine statue. As promised, Raskin submitted House Bill 6720 on February 11, 2022. More information about the Bill are posted on the TPMA website:

Educator, songwriter, and recording artist James Klueh performed two Thomas Paine-themed songs prior to the interactive social hour. His terrific recording of Tom Paine’s Bones was presented during the credits portion of the event.

View the entire recording of the Thomas Paine Birthdate Celebration Zoom event visit here:

View photos from the 2022 Thomas Paine Birthdate Celebration here:

Emily Newman, American Humanist Association representative and Zoom technician.
Todd Stiefel, the founder and director of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation. Stiefel is pictured announcing the triple donation match during the Thomas Paine Birthdate Celebration.
Professor Christopher Cameron is pictured here as he welcomed people to the January 29th Celebration. Cameron is a Board Member of the Thomas Paine Memorial Association (TPMA).
TPMA Honorary Board Member Ann Druyan (professor, director, writer and producer). She delivered a lovely welcome message and stayed to participate in the social hour.
Comedian, author, and actor Julia Sweeney is a TPMA Honorary Board Member. During the celebration she imagined what it would have been like to be a friend to Thomas Paine during his lifetime. Sweeney also stayed online to participate in the event’s social hour.
Actor and TPMA Board Member John de Lancie as he delivered a heartfelt welcome address.
Robyn Blumner, CEO of the Center for Inquiry and the Vice-President of TPMA.
TPMA President, Margaret Downey. She also represented the Freethought Society (FS) at the January 29, 2022 Thomas Paine Birthdate Celebration and talked about past events she organized as President of FS.
Congressman Jamie Raskin's remarks during the celebration were inspiring, educational, and passionate.
Zenos Frudakis is the commissioned sculptor for the Thomas Paine statue project. He is pictured at his Glenside, Pennsylvania studio. Frudakis is standing in front of the clay model of the statue which is over seven feet tall.
Actor Ian Ruskin is a Board Member of TPMA and is the author of the one-man play To Begin the World Again: The Life of Thomas Paine.
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