By Lyn Sherlock
Last Sunday, the Falls Church chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) presented six awards to pillars of the Falls Church community and nearby areas. The event was months in planning, delayed from an in-person affair last May to an online video call due to the pandemic. Family members from across the United States were able to log in and participate.
Falls Church Mayor Tarter, Vice Mayor Marybeth Connelly and Council members Phil Duncan, David Snysder and Debbie Hiscott attended the event along with 45 others including representatives of The Women’s History Group, Citizens for a Better City, Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, Victorian Society, Cherry Hill Farmhouse, and The Village Preservation and Improvement Society and the Falls Church News-Press.
The award recipients were:
Barb Cram received the NSDAR Community Service Award posthumously. The award recognizes outstanding voluntary service. Barb’s decades of volunteer service to Falls Church averaged over 160 hours per month in 2019. The presentation included a pictorial display of her service with The Arts and Humanities Council and Falls Church Arts, Watch Night, the Plein Air Festival, and her support of Chamber of Commerce functions. While we were unable to share this with Barb, the NSDAR was deeply honored to share this with her family. Her husband and daughter were virtually present to receive the honor on her behalf.
Carol De Long, received the NSDAR Women in American History Award, which celebrates women, past and present. The award has been given to more than 2,000 exceptional women, including Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Sojourner Truth. Carol is now counted among them, as the first woman mayor of Falls Church, serving four two-year terms in the 1980s, as a member of the Planning Commission, creation of an economic development board, her advocacy for affordable housing and residential counseling, and the expansion of City Hall.
Midge Wang received the NSDAR Historic Preservation Recognition Award, which honors extraordinary work over a long period supporting preservation efforts. A spokesman for the NSDAR Historic Preservation Committee was enthusiastic about Midge’s efforts to protect historic homes in Falls Church, collect and create Victorian period attire, bring history to life with historical events and workshops, the creation of historic markers and walking tour maps, and preservation of the Congressional Cemetery.
Mary Ellen Henderson received the NSDAR Women in American History Award for her efforts as an education and civil rights pioneer. The presentation told of her service 100 years ago as teacher and principal of the Falls Church “Colored School,” her lobbying for a new school for African American students, actions to address inequality in public schools throughout Virginia, and support for the Colored Citizens Protective League which formed the basis of the first rural branch of the NAACP. Mary Ellen’s legacy lives on, not only through the naming in her memory of Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School, but also through the work of the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation.
Journalist, author, and historian, Marc Leepson, received the NSDAR History Award Medal. He was honored for his prolific writing on historical figures and events in his nine books, including “What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life;” and “Saving Monticello, The Levy Family’s Epic Quest to Rescue the House that Jefferson Built.” The award also recognized his extensive writings in numerous periodicals, radio and television interviews, and contributions to academic conferences around the country.
Ann Mills-Griffiths, Chairman and CEO of the National League of Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Families, received the NSDAR Women in American History Award to recognize more than 30 years of service seeking the recovery and identification of those lost during the Vietnam War. The audience learned of Ann’s impact on U.S. government policy, her leadership and involvement in high-level international negotiations, and her appearance before congressional committees and national and international media to keep the spotlight on efforts supporting a full accounting of those still MIA.
The online event also celebrated the Falls Church Chapter’s 110th anniversary on June 7, 2020 which was recognized by a proclamation signed by Mayor Tarter. The Chapter’s Regent, Lisa Maloney, shared that the objectives of the NSDAR (and its over 3,000 chapters) is the same since its founding in 1890 supporting education, patriotism and historic preservation, through service in their communities and the nation.
The members of the Falls Church chapter have been supporters of the City of Falls Church during Veterans Day, Memorial Day, the Women’s History Walk and the Falls Church Fall Festival events. The chapter maintains two Washington D.C. boundary stones located in Falls Church, cleans headstones in Oakwood cemetery, participates in the cleanup of the local watershed, and supports the Falls Church Community Service Council with cash and food donations.
Vice Mayor Connelly gave remarks on behalf of the City: “The people you are honoring today and your membership have something really important in common — your willingness to volunteer to make our community a better place for future generations.”