The call came to Adrian Citroni on the morning of September 18, 2008. The caller described his son with a touch of gray hair at his temples. When Citroni confirmed the gray hair, the next words he remembered the caller saying were that there had been an accident and that his son had expired.Citroni’s son, Patrick “was on his way to an event where he would be waving the American flag.” At twenty-nine years of age, Pat Citroni was riding his motorcycle on a Baltimore street when an automobile, traveling in the opposite direction, suddenly turned in front of him.
“Pat died of internal injuries sustained in the collision,” his father said. “He wore his helmet, protective gear, everything. He was only going 22 miles per hour.”
It was the discovery of the five hundred pocket sized copies of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution that Pat’s dad found in the trunk of his car that pulled him through his grief.
“The first year was awful. Holidays. Vacations. Pat — the energy force of our family — was gone,” said Linda Citroni, Pat’s stepmother, who has been married to his dad for fourteen years. “If there was one phrase that described Pat, it was “his love of life.”
His dad added, “Pat and I worked together. We shared a ten foot by ten foot office and we called ourselves the ‘Mortgage Bikers’ because we worked in the mortgage business and we rode our motorcycles everywhere, together.”
Adrian Citroni knew that his son had been passionate about liberty since he first read the Declaration of Independence and Constitution in the sixth grade. “We didn’t know the extent of his passion and found out Pat had been handing out the pocket sized books to everyone he met,” his father added. “Pat believed firmly that every man and woman was created equally.”
Citroni called his son’s elementary school, the Sacred Heart School in Glyndon. He took the pocket sized books to Sacred Heart and handed one to every sixth grader. “All of the words were written to be understood by all the people, many with less than an eighth grade education,” Citroni said. “I gave out seventy to eighty of the books. The teacher told me that the kids were reading the constitution at recess!”
In the Citroni’s living room on Christmas Eve, 2010, Pat’s stepbrother, Ben Rohde, presented Pat’s dad and stepmother with a portrait he had commissioned. He announced a plan to create the Patrick J. Citroni Liberty Foundation. “I knew what I wanted to do and I got lots of help from friends who have experience with foundations,” explained Rohde. “Pat’s foundation is a non-profit and I had to set up a board of directors, file an application, develop a mission statement.” Patrick’s portrait is now prominently featured on the website Rohde established for his stepbrother.
In August, the Foundation holds its first annual golf tournament. Rohde set a goal of 70 golfers for the initial tournament, which will benefit the foundation. He signed up 72. “Eventually, I want to double that number,” he said. “The golf course [The Mountain Branch Golf Club in Joppa, Maryland] can handle 144.”
“Pat had just discovered his passion: liberty and making certain everyone he met understood it, ” Adrian Citroni said. “I want to carry it on for him.” The father of five, (seven with his stepchildren) and the grandfather of five, wants to get the pocket sized copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution into the hands of every sixth grader in Maryland. “Sometime, someone will be really inspired. Like Pat was.”
The Patrick J. Citroni Liberty Foundation will fund the pocket sized books, which sell for $5 individually. The initial supply of five hundred, found in Pat’s trunk, has been distributed. Adrian Citron has ordered more, with an inscription inside the front cover of every one:
Presented to you
In Memory of
Patrick J. Citroni