A 65-year-old Michigan woman who said she was inspired by Glenn Beck's upcoming Restoring Courage rally used her $2,500 savings to put up a large "Stand with Israel" billboard above a major interstate highway in the middle of farm country.
Rita Tilley of Bay City said she heard Beck's call to his radio listeners, urging them to show their support for the Jewish state with lawn signs, T-shirts or any other way they could.
"I live in a condo so I can't put up yard signs and I don't like wearing T-shirts, but I thought, 'What can I do?'" she said. "It just came to my mind, it's not something I would have ever thought about doing for another reason."
Tilley, a Christian who has never been to Israel, said she started contacting billboard companies, and was undeterred even after one told her they didn't want to be involved in a "political" message, saying they only did strict advertising. She declined to give the company's name
"The thought wouldn't leave me," she said of putting up a billboard.
Finally, she found another company that gave her an affordable price.
"Glenn always talks about miracles and I believe in them too," Tilley said. "I think God wanted the best for this particular awareness issue."
Because the company required the sign have a sponsoring organization, Tilley turned to her local Tea Party, We the People of Mid-Michigan, an organization she volunteers for. Even though their name appears on the billboard, Tilley put up the funding for it and worked closely with the company to come up with the design.
"I told them exactly what I wanted and they put it to color," she said.
The final product is a blue billboard with the words, "Stand with Israel our friend and ally" beside two crossed American and Israeli flags. It stands above Interstate 75 in the Saginaw-Bay City area.
The billboard, which went up August 1, will be on display until Sept. 30. Tilley said she wanted to have it up during Beck's Israel rally and into September, when the Palestinians plan to petition the United Nations for statehood recognition.
"[Standing with Israel] is more important in the long run even than our economy," Tilley said.
Tilley, who also volunteers for her church and the Salvation Army, said she's been a Beck fan ever since a friend turned her on to him about two years ago. She doesn't own a computer and didn't even have a TV until last year, which she bought one in order to watch his show.
Tilley said she has been particularly inspired by the last words of the Declaration of Independence, which Beck often quotes.
Reciting from memory, she said, "With a firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
"Unless you take them to heart and do something they mean nothing," she said.