Local Commentary

Senator Whipple

Memorial Day in Falls Church always shows the City at its best. A large crowd assembled at the Veterans’ Memorial for a somber ceremony in memory and honor of those who have given their lives to preserve this country’s freedom. As the colors were posted, the middle school band played, the speeches were given and the wreath presented, hearts were full as we remembered their sacrifice.

At the same time, crowds from Falls Church and beyond were enjoying the way of life that sacrifice has preserved. There were goods and crafts for sale; nonprofit organizations educated with pamphlets and posters; the Republicans and Democrats had booths with signs, bumper strips, grip cards, balloons, and plenty of volunteers. Of course there was great food: funnel cakes and cotton candy, egg rolls and chicken teriyaki, lemonade and iced tea.

Then came the much-anticipated parade with friendly crowds lining the route and applauding the many Scouts and Bolivian dancers and the fire trucks and all the others that made it such a festive affair.

All in all, it was a splendid day, if perhaps a bit warm.

Two events last week also reminded me of the volunteer spirit that is so much a part of the American social fabric.

Voices for Virginia’s Children held a conference at George Mason University on "Defining the Unmet Needs of Children in Northern Virginia: the Opportunities and Challenges of a Diverse Community".

Voices for Virginia’s Children is a nonprofit, statewide group whose mission is to build a powerful voice for children and inspire the people of Virginia to act on their behalf. It is a non-partisan awareness and advocacy organization that builds support for practical public policies to improve the lives of children.

The keynote speaker at the conference was Eileen Gail Kugler who was an active parent at Annandale High School when the student body was becoming more diverse. Pleased with the education and preparation for life that her children received there, she has written an interesting and compelling book: Debunking the Middle-Class Myth: Why Diverse Schools Are Good for All Kids.

More than 150 people participated in the forum — a day full of interesting speakers, good information and meaningful discussions, all focused on improving opportunities for our children.

Later in the week the First Lady of Virginia, Anne Holton, spoke at an awards ceremony held in conjunction with a national conference of foster parents. Ms Holton, a former juvenile and domestic relations court judge, has chosen to highlight the issue of finding permanent, loving homes for children in the state.

The essays and poems written by children in foster care were moving and it was heartwarming to hear how often foster parents have created these loving, long-term situations for children in need. We all owe a big debt of gratitude to those who are willing to open their homes and hearts to these children.

The volunteer spirit is alive and well in Falls Church and in the Commonwealth.