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Washington remembered as Americas hero
About 30 gather to honor America's first president on his birthday
Bruce Maney, with the Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard, stands next to the statue of George Washington Tuesday at the intersection of Green and Washington streets during the Washington birthday commemoration. - photo by Tom Reed

Strong wind gusts extended the flags symbolizing the United States and its fight in the American Revolution.

The men carrying the banners wore replica Continental Army uniforms and spoke with respect of the man they view as having led the country into being.

“(George Washington) was America’s hero,” said Ed Rigel Sr.

As president of the Lyman Hall Chapter of the Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution, Rigel organized the Tuesday event honoring Washington on his actual birthday, Feb. 22, 279 years ago.

About 30 people attended the 5 p.m. ceremony at the corner of Green and Washington streets, where two rows of Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution’s color guard members flanked each side of Gainesville’s Washington monument and sculptural bust.

The youngest participant, Mitchell McIntire, 13, handed out programs before the ceremony and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

An Eagle Scout, McIntire won the Lyman Hall Chapter’s Eagle Scout scholarship for his essay related to the many patriots hailing from Liberty County in South Georgia.

“I set a goal and went for it,” McIntire said, with a shrug and a smile.

Leadership was the theme of Rigel’s talk on Washington, which focused on a time when the general’s leading officers were poised to go against him.

Charlie Newcomer, the National Society Sons of the American Revolution’s trustee from Georgia, referenced the words spoken at Washington’s death. They also appear as part of the inscription on the Gainesville monument.

“First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” Newcomer repeated.

The ceremony concluded after John Beale, past president of the Lyman Hall Chapter, planted a red, blue and white carnation wreath at the foot of the monument. He bowed his head.

So did the gathering of local officials and citizens including Betty and Joseph White.

The couple is named on the monument along with dozens of late and present Gainesville residents who contributed to it in 1999.

Returning to the marker every year reminds them not only of Washington’s service but of the volunteer effort resulting in the marker and sculpture. They mentioned the late John P. Souther, and his wife Virginia, in particular.

“I know he is smiling down on us since he’s not here,” Betty White said.