There was a slight chill in the air, but it was much better than the snow, sleet and rain that had been predicted for George Washington’s birthday. Dignitaries gathered early Monday morning to honor George Washington during a wreathlaying.
Gathered at the tomb, Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland welcomed visitors and acknowledged Gay Hart Gaines, Regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. He then invited two visiting children, Deanna Torstenson and Eric Sargeant to lay the wreath in Washington’s tomb.
From there, the group meandered down to the slave memorial, where Richard Dressner, associate director of Mount Vernon for development, addressed the crowd, acknowledging the contribution made by Washington’s slaves.
A new permanent slave memorial to be built was announced.
Hyland also spoke, saying how important it was to remember the slaves who served at Mount Vernon. He introduced Pearson Parker, who was representing Gum Springs community. Parker talked a little about the history of Gum Springs, how West Ford, whose lineage can be traced to one of the Washington’s, was given the land by the family of George Washington and then allowed it to become a refuge for freed and runaway slaves during and after the Civil War.
Hyland spoke of how important the Gum Springs community was and is to Mount Vernon. He then asked Parker and his wife, Bernice, to lay the wreath at the memorial.
Afterwards, guests retired to the administrative building for a reception.