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GW Symposium Brings History To Life

In a proclamation marking George Washington’s 200th birthday, then-President Herbert Hoover said that Washington’s “unselfish devotion to duty, his courage, his patience, his genius, his statesmanship… refreshes the spirit, the wisdom and the patriotism of our people.”

Seventy-one years later, those words could well serve as the introduction to the third George Washington Symposium to be held Feb. 1 at the Masonic Memorial, which initiates Alexandria’s month-long celebration of the nation’s first Commander-in-Chief.

Every five years, the symposium focuses on a different period of Washington’s life. This year the emphasis is on the years 1764 to 1776, after the French and Indian War but prior to the American Revolution.

“We are looking more at Alexandria as Washington’s hometown, and how that period not only impacted him but also the City,” said Barbara Barton, a member of the Symposium Committee. “We have also incorporated reenactors into the presentation. We felt it would make it more fun as well as educational.”

Hugh Barton, Chairman of the committee, added, “The growth of Alexandria is tied to Washington’s life. Most of the reenactors are from the Living History Foundation and the scenes they portray flesh out the historical facts. It truly makes it living history.”

IT HELPS to keep the symposium from just being a dry recitation of scholarly articles, said Joe Shumard, co-Chair of the George Washington Birthday Celebration Committee with Barton. “This symposium is… a lot of fun as well as very educational. Once people see it they realize there’s a lot more to the celebration than the parade.”

Barton and Shoumard hope to make the symposium as much of an element of the birthday celebrations as the Birthnight Ball. Starting at 9 a.m. in the Memorial’s auditorium, Jim Mackay, director of The Lyceum, will present the opening lecture, “How Alexandria Was Growing.” He will also serve as moderator for the day long program and present the closing remarks at 4 p.m.

Particular emphasis this year will be on how the period affected children in Alexandria. Including child reenactors in the skits. “We are also encouraging people to bring their children at the end of the day,” said Barbara Barton, “for a special Punch and Judy show to be staged by the KayDee Puppets,” called “Punch and Judy - A New Twist.”

Created by Dee and Chuck Cardiff, KayDee Puppets have toured the

OTHER SPEAKERS will talk about the foods in Washington’s life, slavery, farming in the 18th Century and a discussion of Washington’s membership in the Masons.

Each of the presentations will focus on the daily life of Alexandria’s people in this lull between the two conflicts. It explores City life in those years and anxieties experienced by the citizenry as

Fees for the event, cosponsored by the George Washington Birthday Committee and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum Society, are $35 for adults and $20 for students. Lunch is included. Advance reservations are required.

Children, ages three to 10, are free during the puppet show only. There will be a break in the program at 2:30 p.m. for children to enter. The only other break is at noon for lunch.

Reservations may be made by sending a check to the GW Symposium, 1225 Martha Custis Drive, Suite 1405, Alexandria, VA 22302. Include name, address, and telephone number of those attending. Payment can also be made by credit card or check on the website at www.washingtonbirthday.net. Reservations are encouraged by January 27.

The Masonic National Memorial is located at 101 Callahan Drive in Alexandria, near the King Street Metro station served by the Yellow and Blue lines. Parking is available on the grounds. Updates on the status of all George Washington Birthday events are available by calling 703-838-9270.

“Since it was first staged in 1999, we have been averaging about 150 attendance,” Hugh Barton stated. “But, this year our goal is to reach 300.”

George Washington Month Calendar

Saturday, Feb. 1

Washington Symposium, covering life in early Alexandria, as well as the parallel life of its most famous hometown hero. This year the Symposium focuses on 1764 to 1776: the Revolutionary War Period. Tickets are $35, $20 for students, with lunch included. Reservations are suggested. Call 703-683-2007. 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m at the George Washington Masonic Memorial, 101 Callahan Dr.

Sunday, Feb. 2

Walking With Washington, walking tours of Alexandria sites associated with George Washington, run by Alexandria Archeology. Tickets are $5, payable at the beginning of the tour. For information, call 703-683-4399. 1:30 p.m. Tour groups meet at the Market Square Fountain at King and Royal Streets.

Sunday, Feb. 9

Walking With Washington, walking tours of Alexandria sites associated with George Washington, run by Alexandria Archeology. Tickets are $5, payable at the beginning of the tour. For information, call 703-683-4399. 1:30 p.m. Tour groups meet at the Market Square Fountain at King and Royal Streets.

Saturday, Feb. 15

George Washington Classic 10-K Race, the first race of the season. Course runs through Eisenhower Valley, and runners may receive prizes, t-shirts and refreshments. Money raised will benefit local charities. Entry fee is $20 until Feb. 2, $22 after. Spectators are free. For more information contact race director Noelle McGlynn at 703-683-5561 or Noelle@PotomacEvents.com. 8 a.m.

Breakfast with George Washington, a sample of the first president’s favorite morning meal, hoecakes swimming in butter and honey, while supplies last. 9 a.m.-noon at the Mount Vernon Estate. For more information, call 703-780-2000. Admission is included in regular estate admission.

America’s Smallest Hometown Parade, with the General and Mount Vernon’s animals, co-sponsored by the A&E Network and the History Channel. 1:30 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Estate. For more information, call 703-780-2000. Admission is included in the regular estate admission.

Birthnight Banquet and Ball, in George Washington’s honor, a tradition that began at Gadsby’s in 1797. Tickets are $75 for the banquet and ball, $30 for the ball only. Reservations are required. Banquet begins at 6:30 p.m., ball from 9:30 p.m.-midnight. Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 N. Royal St.

Sunday, Feb. 16

Walking With Washington, walking tours of Alexandria sites associated with George Washington, run by Alexandria Archeology. Tickets are $5, payable at the beginning of the tour. For information, call 703-683-4399. 1:30 p.m. Tour groups meet at the Market Square Fountain at King and Royal Streets.

Breakfast with George Washington, a sample of the first president’s favorite morning meal, hoecakes swimming in butter and honey, while supplies last. 9 a.m.-noon at the Mount Vernon Estate. For more information, call 703-780-2000. Admission is included in regular estate admission.

America’s Smallest Hometown Parade, with the General and Mount Vernon’s animals, co-sponsored by the A&E Network and the History Channel. 1:30 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Estate. For more information, call 703-780-2000. Admission is included in the regular estate admission.

Encampment at Fort Ward Park, an all-day historic camp and tactical demonstration, including a Revolutionary War skirmish between the Redcoats and the Colonial Army. Admission is free. For more information, call the Ft. Ward Museum at 703-838-4848. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., skirmish at 2 p.m., at Fort Ward Park, 4301 W. Braddock Road.

Birthnight Ball and Supper, the 56th annual celebration held by the Neighborhood Friends of Historic Mount Vernon. Festivities begin at the Mount Vernon Inn restaurant, with cocktails, dinner, a silent acution, raffle and a robust round of Huzzahs for the first president’s birthday. Tickets are $125-175. For more information, or reservations, call 703-799-8647. Starts at 6 p.m., on the grounds of the Mount Vernon Estate.

Monday, Feb. 17

Breakfast and Meeting of Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association, of which George Washington was a member. Guest speaker and hearty breakfast are offered. Tickets are $23. For more information, call Bill Kehoe at 703-751-6416. 9 a.m. at Historic District Holiday Inn, 625 First St.

George Washington’s 271th Birthday at the Mount Vernon Estate. General Washington will greet guests, who can also participate in the Presidential wreathlaying at Washington’s Tomb, and enjoy music and military performances by the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps, and the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard. Admission is free. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Estate.

George Washington Farewell Address, a Reenactment of Washington’s speech as he left public life. Admission is free. For more information, call the Lyceum at 703-838=49094. 11 a.m.-noon at The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington St.

Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Revolution, as Colonial Military and Civilians honor the Soldiers of the Revolutionary War. Admission is free. 11 a.m. in the courtyard behind the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, 321 S. Fairfax St.

Open House of Historic Alexandria Sites, including Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Friendship Firehouse Museum and Carlyle House. Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 N. Royal St., Alexandria, tours available from 1 a.m.-3:15 p.m. Friendship Firehouse Museum, 107 S. Alfred St., tours available from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Carlyle House, 121 N. Fairfax St., tours available from 11 a.m.-3:15 p.m.

George Washington Birthday Parade, the largest Parade Celebrating Washington’s Birthday in the country. This year’s Grand Marshal is John Porter, T.C. Williams principal. 1-3 p.m. Parade begins on South St. Asaph Street at Wilkes Street, runs north on St. Asaph to Queen Street, east on Queen to Royal Street, south on Royal to King Street, east on King to Fairfax Street and south on Fairfax to Gibbon Street. The reviewing stand is set up on the west side of Royal at Cameron Street. Handicapped access is on the east side of Royal Street, across from the reviewing stand. Maps of the route are available at www.washingtonbirthday.net

Saturday, Feb. 22

Washington’s Birthday Party, for children of all ages, featuring colonial costumes, 18th Century dancing and Martha Washington’s cake. Admission is free. For more information, call the Lyceum at 703-838-4994. 10-11 a.m. at the Lyceum, 201 S. Washington St.

Sunday, Feb. 23

Walking With Washington, walking tours of Alexandria sites associated with George Washington, run by Alexandria Archeology. Tickets are $5, payable at the beginning of the tour. For information, call 703-683-4399. 1:30 p.m. Tour groups meet at the Market Square Fountain at King and Royal Streets.

Wreath Laying Ceremony, remembrance by the Masonic Fraternity followed by tours of the Masonic Memorial. Admission is free, to celebrate the birthday of George Washington. For more information call 703-683-2007. Tours from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m., wreath-laying ceremony at 2 p.m. at George Washington Masonic National Memorial, 101 Callahan Drive.

Ongoing

Tracheotomy: The Last Resort, an exhibit, presented by the John Q. Adams Center for the History of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery, on the history of the tracheotomy. There is speculation that Washington might not have died in 1799 if he had followed the advice of Dr. Elisha Dick, one of his three personal physicians, who recommended a tracheotomy for the treatment of Washington’s septic sore throat, a condition that made it difficult for the president to breathe. Admission is free. More information is available online at www.entnet.org/museum, or by calling 703-519-1579. Exhibit is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, through the month of February, at 1 Prince St.

Celebration Photograph Contest and Exhibit, featuring modern and historic photographs of the Washington birthday celebrations, from amateur and professional photographers. Deadline for contest entries is March 31, and exhibition will take place in April. Contest is free. Entry forms are available at www.washingtonbirthday.net.