With a little over two years until the Jamestown 400 anniversary celebration, state Del. Vincent Callahan of McLean has his hands full.
Callahan, R-34th, was recently elected co-chairman of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, along with Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., of James City, to oversee the planning and organization of what he calls the “greatest thing ever to happen to Virginia.”
“This is possibly the greatest thing to ever happen to the United States,” Callahan said. “We’re planning a huge celebration, so there will be benefits to the state and also to tourism. We expect the royal family will be here, there will be a tall ships review and an international naval review.”
The Foundation, a state agency that oversees the Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center, is helping to plan the commemoration of the establishment of the first permanent English settlement in the Western Hemisphere, in conjunction with Jamestown 2007, the official commemoration group.
As chairman of the state’s House Appropriations Committee, Callahan became a member of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation in 1998 and has chaired several committees before being elected co-chairman of the foundation earlier this month, when former co-chairman V. Earl Dickinson of Mineral was elected chairman emeritus.
“Of all the things I’ve done in the General Assembly, this is the best,” Callahan said. “It’s great to be promoting Virginia and what this state means to the rest of the country.”
There are some troubles waiting for Callahan and Norment, such as the financial troubles in completing the facilities that are being planned for the anniversary celebrations.
“They’re renovating the Capitol building in Richmond, which is scheduled to be completed by 2007. There are many projects with ties to the celebration,” he said.
The projects are being planned in conjunction with over 80 community celebration groups, including one in McLean that Callahan helped create, one of the first commemoration communities to sign up.
“We hope to have 100 communities by the time we’re through,” he said. “There’s a whole slew of events going on, and we’ll all be very busy.”
Carole Herrick, co-chairwoman of the McLean/Great Falls Celebrate Virginia Committee, said Callahan’s love of history makes him a great choice to lead such a large undertaking.
“DUE TO HIS ORGANIZATION of this contingent of citizens, we’re pretty well organized,” Herrick said. “He might not be able to attend all of our meetings, but he gets the minutes every month, and I know he reads them.”
Callahan may help the committee determine its legacy projects, which every community will undertake as a lasting reminder of Virginia’s history and its role in the birth of the country.
“He’s a terrific choice (for co-chairman) because he’s very interested in history,” Herrick said. “He’s quite a history buff. He’s not one that talks much, but he’ll talk at great lengths about history.”
She said that the focus in McLean and Great Falls, during the commemoration year, will be on the history of the area, which “sometimes gets lost in the shuffle” due to its proximity to the Potomac River and Washington.
“This will be a great chance to highlight the history of our area, and Vince is the perfect person to be in charge of what he’s doing,” she said.
“I think he is tremendously excited about this celebration and happy with his position,” said Laura Bailey, executive assistant to the boards within the Foundation. “It’s a great opportunity to bring information about Jamestown to more people, maybe even internationally.”
She said, traditionally, people on this board have “moved up from various official positions” into the chair role, and Callahan is no exception. He was vice chairman and will be succeeded by H. Benson Dendy III of Richmond in that position.
The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation meets twice yearly, in May and November, with committee meetings taking place at various intervals during the year, said Debby Padgett, spokeswoman for the Foundation.
“This is a great opportunity for Americans to learn about the nation’s beginnings at Jamestown. The educational aspect is probably the most important,” she said.