The Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association held its annual breakfast Feb. 20 at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Old Town in the traditional kick-off to the city's George Washington Birthday Parade celebrations.
Highlighted by a keynote address by Alexandria resident Gen. Barry McCaffrey (ret.), the breakfast featured the presentation of the Rev. Ben Lynt Distinguished Service award to Patsy Ticer.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this," said a surprised Ticer. "My contributions are minimal compared to what so many others are doing in our community."
In addition to McCaffrey, Don De Haven as Gen. George Washington and Fire Chief Adam Thiel addressed the crowd.
"The last 10 days have been the worst and best of my life," Thiel said. "The loss of Joshua Weissman was unimaginable but at the same time I am proud of our department and how we all pulled together in the spirit of brotherhood throughout all branches of city government."
McCaffrey spoke on the current state of U.S. national security to a crowd of dignitaries that included Gen Bruce Scott (ret.) and his wife Mary, whose father Gen. Richard Tallman was the last general to be killed in action in the Vietnam conflict.
"America has never been safer in our country's history," McCaffrey said. "No power, economic or military, represents a significant threat to the United States."
McCaffrey closed his remarks by noting that America remains a beacon to other nations.
"We are still admired as a nation around the world," said McCaffrey, who added with a laugh that his own Irish parents came to America through Ellis Island. "Look at them. They were drunk and they did OK."