Bisrat Mekkonen was born in Ethiopia and has been here only two or three years, but he so well acclimated himself to U.S. life that he received the 2012 Good Neighbor award at Douglas MacArthur School on June 18 by TRCA Executive Committee Member Chad Sarchio. Bisrat received a $50 U.S. Savings Bond for his outstanding character. His fellow classmates said that he is a good friend because he demonstrates respect, trustworthiness, caring, fairness, responsibility, and overall good citizenship. In addition, they noted that he respects others and he treats people the way he would want to be treated, is a hard worker and never hurts the feelings of others.

His hobby is climbing, he plays the viola, and he wants to be an engineer when he grows up. Commended by his teachers for his constant helping of other students, Bisrat says, "I just like helping people. I help my mom in the kitchen and I help other kids in school with their homework."


John G. Bernard awards were given by President Bill Schreiner of Friends of Fort Ward this year to two supporters of the fort. Wanda Dowell, formerly the director, began working at Fort Ward in 1965 and retired in 2002. In her 37 years she began as a museum assistant and became director in 1979. Because of her leadership, Fort Ward became accredited by the American Association of Museums and won reaccreditation in 1997. The American Association of Museums gave the special award for outstanding preservation of the historic earthworks at the fort. Wanda has worked with the Civil War Trails project since the beginning and has served on the regional board. She helped guide the organization of the Friends of Fort Ward.

By the early 1980s, the northwest bastion had fallen into disrepair because of budget cuts and a focus on other priorities in the city. Gun carriages had been removed because they were deteriorated; gun platforms and revetments were warped and rotting. Over several years, through Wanda's persistent efforts, these conditions were repaired.

Another award went to Ed Hendrickson who has been a volunteer at Fort Ward since 2004. He has done a fine job welcoming visitors to the fort and orienting them to the layout.

Ed is intensely interested in the history of the defenses of Washington, has done much research and is very helpful to visitors. During the past five years he has done a special research project on the defenses of Washington during the Civil War. He has compiled and organized materials on all the troops stationed in the defense system. He has assembled reference notebooks, personal correspondence, material from other reference collections, and established an index for all this material on the museum's main floor computer, so if someone comes in and wants to find out where someone was stationed and when, he or she can now consult Ed's index to the collections.

Councilman Frank Fannon spoke briefly commending the contribution made by the staff of the museum. At least 50 members of the supporting group showed up at the summer party at which the awards were presented.


Friends and admirers of Kit Leider joined together to celebrate her birthday at a festive luncheon with muffins and mimosas. Hostesses were Anna Leider, Lois Walker and Carol Bringham. State Sen. Adam Ebbin came, as did Pam and Kerry St. Clair, Amoret Bunn, Harlene Clayton and Kit's sister Marilyn Stolstadt. Marilyn and Kit had just returned from a visit to the Baltic Sea.