2019 GWSAR Chapter Events
On February 8th and 9th, eleven George Washington Chapter members attended the 129th VASSAR Annual Meeting at the Omni Hotel in Richmond, VA. During the meeting the George Washington Chapter was recognized for its 2018 performance under the leadership of past-president, Ernie Coggins. During the two-day meeting, the Chapter received numerous accolades, including streamers for the Chapter Excellence Award and for nominating State-level winners of the Best EMS Person of the Year (shared by Lieutenant Brian Marks and Technician Johnathon Hartmann of the Prince William County Fire and Rescue) and the Best Life Saver of the Year (Deputy Myrna Juarez of the Alexandria City Sherriff’s Department).
George Washington Chapter conducted the Chapter Winter Working Meeting to address important Chapter business and set the tone for 2019. Topics addressed where Chapter meetings, ceremonies, activities, the newsletter and the website. Thoughts are more than welcomed anytime throughout the year.
Our Chapter Meeting was held on Saturday, January 12, 2019 at the Belle Haven Country Club. Our quest speaker was John Patrick Murphy, a retired corporate attorney, historian and lecturer, will address Chapter members and guests on the topic of “Understanding the Bill of Rights as Enacted by the Founders and its Metamorphosis Over the Centuries” at our regularly-scheduled January meeting
2018 GWSAR Chapter Events
On Saturday, December 15, 2018, the George Washington Chapter participated in Wreaths Across America will be at Alexandria National Cemetery to Remember and Honor our veterans through the laying of Remembrance wreaths on the graves of our country's fallen heroes and the act of saying the name of each and every veteran aloud. This year we contributed 300 wreaths.
On November 10, President Ernie Coggins, Secretary Tom Roth, and Paul Walden honored seven veterans living at the Sunrise at Mount Vernon Assisted Living facility in Alexandria. The Reverend Thomas Costa, who was spoken to our chapter before, and conducts Sunday morning prayer services at the facility, started the ceremony by reading the lyrics from the Johnny Cash song “Ragged Old Flag.” After Reverend Costa’s wife, Susan, let us in singing the National Anthem, each veteran was presented with a certificate of recognition for their service and a “Proud to be a Veteran” lapel pin. Many veterans now living in assisted living facilities and nursing homes are often forgotten, so the ceremony reminded them of our nation’s gratitude for their service. The veterans honored were: Henry Malik (Navy), Bob Stickell (Navy), Eric Wilder, (Army), Karl Norris (Army), Ron Sedlacek (Navy), Irwin Simensky (Army), and Gene Swedo (Air Force). A cake in red, white and blue icing with the caption “Sons of the American Revolution Salutes Our Veterans” was then served. The George Washington Chapter was indeed honored to salute these esteemed veterans of our armed forces. Then, to show our chapter’s gratitude for Reverend Costa’s service to the public, our chapter, and supporting local Revolutionary War-era history, the Bronze Good Citizenship medal was awarded to him. We even met a resident of the facility who is interested in joining the SAR!
John Blair of the George Washington Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution presented Deputy Brian Wade, Deputy Gerald Wooden and Deputy Myrna Juarez with awards on Oct. 24 for their outstanding responses in two incidents last year. Then Blair presented an award to Sheriff Dana Lawhorne in recognition of his exceptional public service. Blair, who serves as the chapter’s Public Safety Awards chair, first awarded Wade and Wooden with law enforcement commendation medals for their quick thinking and rescue of an inmate who had attempted suicide. Then he presented Juarez with the chapter’s new life-saving award for her response, while off duty, to aid a man who had been critically injured in a crash on I-95. Blair stated that Juarez is the first person to receive this award. Members of the deputies’ families and many of their colleagues were present to see them receive their awards. Blair also announced that his chapter was presenting Lawhorne with the law enforcement commendation medal for his outstanding public service. Due to a prior commitment, Lawhorne was unable to be there so Undersheriff Tim Gleeson had the honor of accepting the award on the Sheriff’s behalf.
Yorktown Day marks the anniversary of the American-French victory in 1781 over the British. In 1781, following a nine-day bombardment, British forces in Yorktown under General Charles Cornwallis requested a cease-fire and then surrendered more than 8,000 soldiers and sailors to the combined American and French armies commanded by General George Washington. This was the last major military action of the American Revolution, effectively securing independence for the American colonies following a six and-a-half-year military struggle.
October 2018 Chapter meeting and luncheon. Our guest speaker was Ms. Katrina Krempasky of the Fairfax Circuit Court Historic Records Center, whose mission is to preserve and make available to the public the historic records of the Fairfax Circuit Court. Katrina spoke on “The Colonial Courtroom: The Who, Why and How of the Early Virginia Court”
To commemorate the 231st Anniversary of the Signing of the Constitution, the George Washington Chapter led a service at Historic Pohick Episcopal Church in Lorton, VA. Pohick Church was the parish church of General George Washington and George Mason. The Master of Ceremonies was Paul Walden. The Reverend Thomas Costa, portraying Parson Massey, Rector of Pohick Church during the Revolutionary War period, read the preamble to the Constitution and led us in prayer, following a solemn tolling of the church bell 13 times.
Semi-Annual Meeting began with the Board of Managers meeting on Friday afternoon. During Friday evening, four different workshops were offered: Registrar/Genealogy, Admin./Awards, Color Guard and Americanism. The General Membership meeting was held Saturday morning followed by an afternoon luncheon.
Honoring and recognizing those men and women who have served our country and have paid the ultimate sacrifice is one of the core missions of the Sons of the American Revolution. The George Washington Chapter is in the distinctive position of hosting the annual NSSAR Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Leading the NSSAR Wreath Laying Ceremony this year was NSSAR President General Warren Alter and George Washington Chapter President Ernie Coggins. Attending Chapter members and their guests witnessed this unique and inspiring wreath laying ceremony performed by the U.S. 3rd Infantry, The Old Guard.
NSSAR President General Warren M. Alter was our guest speaker for September. Compatriot Alter had a thirty-nine year career as a law enforcement officer and then taught law enforcement-related courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He joined the SAR in 1998 because of the SAR’s Law Enforcement Commendation program, as well as an interest in genealogy.
As part of a tradition that spans 57 years, the George Washington Chapter organized an Independence Day Commemoration at George Washington's Mount Vernon. The parade up the bowling green in front of the mansion was led by the talented Frederick Town Fife and Drum Corps and the VASSAR Color Guard. Chapter Vice President Dave Thomas served as Master of Ceremonies, Chapter President Ernest Coggins delivered an address, greetings were offered by 1st VASSAR Vice President Pete Davenport and VADAR Historian Holly Lynne McKinley Schmidt, and VASSAR Orations Contest winner, Miss Gabby Lucchetti from Bishop O'Connell High School, delivered her speech. The event concluded with a wreath laying at General Washington's tomb by 1st VASSAR Vice President, Pete Davenport and past George Washington Chapter President, Paul Walden. Members of the SAR, DAR, CAR and public were then invited to lay carnations at the entrance to General Washington’s tomb. Over 40 members from the George Washington, George Mason, Fairfax Resolves, Culpeper Minutemen, Norfolk, Richmond, Dan River, and William Grayson VASSAR Chapters participated in the event. After that event, GWSAR Vice President, Dave Thomas participated in the Mt. Vernon Naturalization Ceremony for 101 new citizens in leading their first Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
At the invitation of George Washington’s Mt. Vernon, the George Washington Chapter represented by Vice President, Dave Thomas participated in the Mt. Vernon Naturalization Ceremony. The Chapter’s traditional participation in the ceremony goes back many years, and has always been an honor for the Chapter’s Vice President to lead the first Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag for newly naturalized United States citizens. This year 101 naturalized citizens were welcomed as United States citizens. The Naturalization Ceremony had welcoming remarks by Dr. Douglas Bradburn, President and CEO, George Washington’s Mt. Vernon, Chip Fulghum Deputy Under Secretary for Management Department of Homeland Security performed the Oath of Allegiance, thoughtful remarks were extended by General Washington portrayed by Dean Malissa and closing remarks by Ziad Ojakli Group Vice President, Government and Community Relations, Ford Motor Company were offered.
On June 9, 2018 Declaration Day was celebrated at Gunston Hall in Lorton, VA the home of Founding Father George Mason. The celebration was to honor and recognize the signing of the Virginia Declaration of Rights authored by George Mason and signed 242 years ago in June 1776. In remembrance and recognition of signing this significant document, the VASSAR George Mason, George Washington and William Grayson Chapters performed a wreath laying ceremony at the gravesite of Founding Father George Mason.
Cadet SSG Kathryn Moran and Cadet CPT Justin Martinez, juniors at Edison High School, received Sons of the American Revolution Bronze JROTC Medals at the school's annual awards ceremony May 30. Cadet Moran, in her first year of JROTC, was recognized for her leadership, for being an honor roll scholar and varsity athlete and ranking in the top five percent of JROTC students. Cadet Martinez, a third year ROTC participant, was cited for his leadership and potential as a cadet. He ranks in the top 25 percent of his class and the top 10 percent of JROTC students.
On Monday, May 28, 2018 George Washington Chapter compatriots along with compatriot VASSAR and DCSSAR Chapters and members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) participated in two 2018 Memorial Day events in Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, VA. Our unit of 22 compatriots marched down Constitution Avenue in honor to those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and the cause of Liberty from the Revolutionary War to present day.
An important and special remembrance associated with George Washington’s Birthday is the Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Revolution. The purpose of the ceremony held at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House is to recognize and honor the soldiers of the American Revolution
2017 GWSAR Chapter Events
Beautiful day for honoring our veterans by placing an evergreen wreath with a red bow on their graves – we had hundreds of volunteers come out to place over 2,900 (a record!) wreaths at Alexandria National Cemetery. Event attended by Chapter members Paul Walden, Paul Briggs, Ernie Coggins, Tom Roth, Jamie Callender, Jack Coulter, and John Brigden
The George Washington Chapter Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution and the Kate Waller Barrett Chapter Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution conducted their annual Veteran's Day commemoration and wreath laying at General Washington's tomb at Mount Vernon at 2:15 pm on November 11. The wreath was presented by Col. John Brigden, USA (Ret.) and Cdr. Joseph Famme, USN (Ret.). Kate Waller Barrett Virginia DAR Chapter Regent Kathy Gray and George Washington Virginia SAR Chapter President Paul Walden gave remarks. George Washington Chapter Vice President Ernest Coggins served as Master of Ceremonies. The VASSAR Color Guard presented colors and Fifer MSG. Don Francisco, USA (Ret.) provided the music accompaniment, in addition VASSAR President, Mike Elston and the Virginia President of the C.A.R., Emily Elston were also in attendance. Despite the cold weather, there was a large turnout from the public.
On October 23, the George Washington Chapter, Virginia Society, Sons of the American Revolution presented public service awards to members of the Prince William County Fire and Rescue Department at the McCoart County Administration Building. A heroism award was presented to Technician Jason Zappas for rescuing a child trapped in a burning automobile while off duty. Fire Safety Awards were presented to Lt Dave Jones, Captain Walt Hunt, Lt Kevin Tobey, Technicians Matt Pullen, Daniel McGee, Pamela Bray, David Worrell, Edward Schmidt, Paul Racco, Aaron Dillon, and Asley Amequita for their response to a house fire on June 20, 2016. Finally, Emergency Medical Service awards were presented to Captain Bob Montminy and Lt. Randy Coggin for implementing a High Performance CPR program for Prince William County Fire and Rescue personnel.
On October 19, VASSAR celebrated the 236th anniversary of our ancestors' victory at Yorktown. A strong contingent of Virginia SAR compatriots participated in the celebration, led by President Mike Elston and seven other state officers with 13 Virginia chapters participating. President Larry Guzy represented the NSSAR. Festivities began the evening before with a dinner at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. The featured speaker was General Lafayette, portrayed by an actor. The morning began with the presentation of wreaths at the tomb of Thomas Nelson, Jr. Virginia SAR Secretary Wayne Rouse was the master of ceremonies, greetings were brought by President General Larry Guzy, and Virginia SAR President Mike Elston was the keynote speaker.
14 October – Chapter Meeting at Belle Haven Country Club - keynote speaker Mrs. Carole Thomas discussed Patriot George Mason in a talked titled, George Mason: Influence of a Forgotten Founding Father. Mrs. Thomas provided historical information about George Mason, his family, his temperament and health issues, as well as information about his writings. These writing will include the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Virginia Constitution and how they influenced the national documents of a developing country.
At 1:00 pm on September 17, the George Washington Chapter of the Virginia Society, Sons of the American Revolution, commemorated the 230th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution at historic Pohick Episcopal Church in Lorton, Virginia. Pohick Church was the parish church of General George Washington and George Mason. The Rev. Thomas A. Costa, D. Div. (left) portraying Rev. Lee Massey, Colonial Rector of Pohick Church during Washington’s time, read the Preamble to the Constitution and gave a benediction. George Washington SAR Chapter President, Paul Walden (right) gave a brief history on the Constitution and its relevance today. The Pohick Church bell rang 13 times in celebration and to honor this momentous 230th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution.
On September 9 the George Washington Chapter hosted President General Larry Guzy as he presented the NSSAR Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. PG Guzy was assisted by VASSAR President, Mike Elston in presenting the wreath, and escorted by George Washington Chapter President, Paul Walden and Virginia SAR Color Guard Commander, Bill Schwetke. The Virginia SAR Color Guard flanked the march down the steps to the tomb in uniform with flags.
On Saturday, July 22rd the Fairfax Resolves Chapter hosted a celebration event to recognize the 243rd Anniversary of the Fairfax Resolves. George Washington President, Paul Walden presented the Chapter wreath and VASSAR President, Mike Elston offered greetings and words of inspiration in honor of this important historical event. The Fairfax Resolves was crafted by founding father George Mason on July 18, 1774 two years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and are considered the most detailed, the most influential and the most radical objection of the British Parliament's claim of supreme authority over the American colonies up to that time.
Compatriots from the George Washington Chapter attended the reading of the Declaration of Independence at Historic Pohick Church in Lorton, VA on 1 July. Rev. Tom Costa portraying Parson Massey, who was Rector of Pohick Church during the American Revolution, read from the pulpit, Pohick Church was the parish church of George Washington and George Mason.
Historically themed family-friendly activities, live musical performances, antique vehicles from the Police and Fire Departments, re-enactors and living history demonstrations, the annual Lord and Lady Fairfax Awards Program, talks on a variety of topics in the Historic Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia's WWI/WWII Anniversary Mobile, Historic Courthouse Tours, Revolutionary War memorial plaque dedication ceremony, Petting Zoo, and much more!
At the May Chapter Meeting we admitted a new memorial member, Paul A Callender, Jr and our speaker was Christian McBurney who spoke about his latest book: "Abductions in the American Revolution: Attempts to Kidnap George Washtington, Benedict ARnold and Other Military and Civilian Leaders."
Our guest speaker at the March 11 chapter meeting was the Reverend Tom Costa. Tom has been involved as a church historian, school chaplain, writer, and lecturer since the beginning of his ministry work in California. After moving to Virginia in 2003, he began research on a historic Anglican liturgy project from the colonial and Victorian periods as a way to provide a method of evangelism using educational and dramatic approaches.
The nation’s largest George Washington Birthday parade marches a one-mile route through the streets of Old Town Alexandria. With nearly 3,500 participants, this community parade honors one of the Alexandria’s favorite sons: Grand Marshal: Retired Police Chief Earl Cook. Special guest: Olympic silver medal winner, boxer Shakur Stevenson.
On February 10-12, 2017 the Virginia Society, Sons of the American Revolution held its 127th Annual Meeting at the Omni Hotel and Resorts in Richmond, VA. The highlight of the session was the installation on Saturday night, February 11th, of our own Chapter member Mike Elston as Society President for the 2017-2018 year.
On January 21, three contestants for the Joseph S. Rumbaugh Historical Oration Contest were judged after the chapter workshop at Pohick Church. The three were Seylon Edmundson and Jesse Amoss, both from Bishop O'Connell HS, and Samuel Barge, a home-schooled senior from Woodbridge. Samuel Barge was the winner and will be delivering his speech again at the VASSAR Annual Conference in February. Congratulations to all three of these students for their scholarship and hard work!