Local Commentary

Editorial: Well, Thank You, Walter!

When measuring the value of compliments, it is natural to consider the source. Is the person known for being truthful, for speaking and acting with integrity?

So when Falls Church’s beloved 99-year-old and enormously accomplished Walter Mess took a moment at the ceremony to dedicate a plaza in his honor on the W&OD trail Sunday to say some kind words to a large audience about our editor, among others, the praise could not have meant more to us.

Mess is a decorated World War II hero who marshaled the resources and leadership to build the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority from nothing 50 years ago to its 11,000 acres, 19 parks and hundreds of trails now serving up to 10 million people a year (see story of Sunday’s dedication elsewhere this issue). For a man of this stature and extensive life experience to single out someone for a sincere compliment is something, indeed. Thank you, Walter!

The comment came in the context of praising those with extensive track records who “have given time and talent to make Falls Church work.” All those he mentioned (see story) are worthy, or course, but in the case of our editor, he said a bit more, adding that some may not always agree with his editorial views, but “He does it. He makes it work.”

Yes, as with his own sustained dedication, it is the qualities of perseverance and staying power that matter, hallmarks of his eminent role as a member of what Tom Brokaw called America’s “greatest generation.” It is what our newspaper has done and does as a binding and community-building influence over time.

Mess’ comments came at poignant time for us, to the very day that the News-Press buttoned up its first edition 21 years ago.

It deserves noting that much comes and goes that flares for a short time, but lacks the sustainability of a committed, professional enterprise. There was a short-lived magazine here in the mid-1990s that didn’t make it a year. There was an on-line blog established that became a rallying post for some with strongly negative views of the City government but its editor burned out, apparently, and moved away. A giant national corporation decided to improve its financial bottom line by luring eyeballs onto its websites with some local news. We’ll see.

There will be more such cases, no doubt. But we view our job to be just that, to continue to do our job as the unflappable “newspaper of record” for Falls Church and environs.

Our editor enjoyed another major recognition this month, being selected by the statewide Equality Virginia equal rights advocacy organization as a recipient of its “OUTstanding Virginian” award that will be presented in Richmond next month.

Like the Mess recognition, this comes from just the kind of source that makes it really matter. This appreciation of our editor-founder’s, and the News-Press’ unrelenting dedication to full equality couldn’t mean more.