W3R-US Bulletin October 2022


The Bulletin

A monthly publication of The National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association

October 2022           On the Web: www.w3r-us.org           Vol. 2, No. 10


‘Phenomenal Year’ Reviewed at Board Meeting in Yorktown

Portrait of General Rochambeau hangs in the meeting room in York Hall. Photo by Jeff Canning
Portrait of General Rochambeau hangs in the meeting room in York Hall. Photo by Jeff Canning

A Board meeting whose agenda overflowed with the latest accomplishments of W3R-US and its state units launched two event-filled days in Yorktown, Virginia, celebrating the 241st anniversary of the French-U.S. victory over the British in 1781. This edition of The Bulletin is devoted to those two days; regular content will resume in the November edition.

With a portrait of General Rochambeau watching benignly from the wall behind him in York Hall, National Chair Larry Abell told the hybrid gathering that, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and other challenges, “It has been a phenomenal year,” including adoption in April of a Strategic Plan. “We look to accomplish new things,” he said, but cautioned that resources are needed to do so. Fundraising remains the top priority for the Association and there is a need for more dialogue and consensus.

The fast-paced three-hour session, its format reworked to provide more time for discussion of key activities, included a report from the Trail Administrator, reports on several major initiatives, plans for the Semiquincentennial (250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026), committee and state reports. Highlights included:

Trail Administrator Johnny Carawan

Trail Administrator’s report: Johnny Carawan thanked the Board for its work collectively and individually and singled out the efforts of Executive Director Ellen von Karajan, whom he described as “a good investment,” and Nicole Yancey, for her work with France and the French community. Among the highlights of his presentation:

  • Funding: Numbers are still awaited for overall funding. $38,000 is budgeted for special events in the fiscal year beginning June 1, 2023. $20,000 is budgeted in the Task Agreement for Connecticut’s Digging into History program with students.
  • Women on the Water: The Tall Ships America program for minorities in grades 6-12 has been funded for three years, including $13,000 in the next fiscal year. Johnny described the program as “a great immersive experience” in the runup to the 250th, as the Semiquincentennial is informally known.
  • Semiquincentennial 1: Trail celebrations will begin in Newport, RI, where WARO has more programming leeway than in heavily scripted Yorktown. … Johnny is working with the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia to focus on an exhibit it is creating on the forgotten founders of the United States.
  • Semiquintcentennial 2: The National Park Service has not yet released its strategic plan. Meanwhile, Johnny is moving ahead with sharing the many stories the Trail can tell, including the African American component of the Continental Army and the importance of French support.
  • Semiquincentennial 3: While the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence will be essentially a “one and done” in 2026, WARO will feature its own series of Revolutionary War commemorative events in 2031-32.
  • Trumbull papers: Johnny is using Task Agreement funds for Connecticut officials to scan/digitize 23 volumes of the papers of Jonathan Trumbull, governor of Connecticut during the Revolutionary War.
  • Post cards: Designed to receive individual, distinct “passport” stamps at sites along the Trail, they can be a popular inducement to “get off the highway” and visit a site.

Strategic Plan priorities: Randy Flood, chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, reported that, with the Strategic Plan adopted by the Board April 6, 2022, his key focus now is on implementation. He continues his work on educational programs to spread knowledge of the Trail begun with the Open Outdoors for Kids grant from the National Park Foundation. Work to date in Virginia with teachers and students will provide a blueprint for other states to utilize. The workbook developed by Elaine Lawton’s team as part of the Become a Patriot – or Not program has been a big hit. Orientation sessions are planned for new members as the committee prepares to turn its attention to substantial fundraising.

Page from Bruce Donald’s report to the Board about financial resources.

Financial resources development: National Vice Chair Bruce Donald, Chair of the Financial Resources Committee, reviewed three key elements:

  • Grant readiness – information about W3R-US with which to approach potential donors, including organizational background, tax documents, financial data, governance and program/project details.
  • Funding needs – capacity grants for existing operations and expansion; projects, including signage, education, cultural transformation and outdoor recreation; and state-centric planning.
  • Potential revenue streams – WARO, foundations, corporations, individuals, memberships and events.

Suggestions from people in attendance included making sure W3R is represented at events such as those in Newport; having a brief “elevator speech” to educate people who know nothing of the Trail; partnerships; and connecting with French corporations.

Rochambeau parties: Director Brad Fay cited the importance of fundraising to the near-term future of W3R-US and suggested that, in the process, the Association could rally all Americans around the founding story of the United States and heal some of the divisions afflicting the nation. The Trail passes through many communities with prospective donors so it is not necessary to solicit the same people repeatedly, he said.

Page from Brad Fay’s report about the Rochambeau Party he and his wife, Jackie, hosted.

Well-planned parties, such as the one he and his wife, Jackie, hosted at their historic New Jersey home Aug. 28, can foster awareness, engagement and advocacy as well as raise funds. He recommended that, depending on the situation in a host community, gatherings could be held at a historic site, a private home or a restaurant, with a compelling program that includes re-enactors and locally relevant Trail stories. The Fays’ “Garden Party,” for example, featured re-enactors portraying George Washington and Billy Lee, attracted about 60 people and, after about $1,000 of expenses, raised a net $4,610 for W3R-US. Brad challenged each state and the District of Columbia to hold at least one party and raise a total of $50,000 by Rochambeau’s 298th birthday, July 1, 2023, with the overall theme of “telling diverse stories that happened here.” W3R-US can provide basic support, and Johnny can help with funding for speakers, travel, tents and chairs (but not food). “It’s important to make people aware,” Larry emphasized.

Volkssport’s “Trail of Heroes” challenge: Following up on his Sept. 12 discussion with the Executive Committee, Tim Miner, president of the Virginia Volkssport Association, gave a presentation about the parent San Antonio, Texas-based American Volkssport Association (AVA), https://ava.org/, “America’s Walking Club,” which is committed to fun, fitness and friendship. The AVA, founded in 1976, has more than 200 active clubs in the United States and is partnering with W3R-US and its state groups to co-host noncompetitive Trail-based events including walking and cycling. These events, Tim said, could “incentivize” people to get outdoors, experience the Trail corridor and interact with history, even if only in snippets, between now and the 250th anniversary (2031) of the Washington-Rochambeau march to Yorktown.

Specifically, Tim proposed a “Trail of Heroes” collaboration in which participants of all ages would walk and/or cycle part or all of the Trail in each state (including the District of Columbia), possibly with Trail sites hosting a segment event. For a fee (ranging from $3 to $15 depending on the extent of involvement), participants who so desired would collect stamps in a logbook and pins that could be attached to a national award ribbon and medal if they completed the requirements by Dec. 31, 2031. The program has already been initiated in Virginia, which Tim, playing on the state’s “Virginia is for lovers” slogan, described as “for walking and cycling lovers.”

Semiquincentennial planning: Widespread discussion of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence (2026) and beyond included these suggestions and comments:

  • Collaboration with the American Volkssport Association could facilitate a 2031 reenactment of the 2006 march during which Ralph Nelson and several other stalwarts hiked the entire Trail in honor of the 225th anniversary of the 1781 march.
  • In collaboration with Colonial National Historical Park, restore the pavilion at Surrender Field in Yorktown.
  • Hold at least one signature event in each state.
  • New, uniform signage identifying and uniting the entire Trail, which would inform more people about the Trail’s existence and, hopefully, encourage them to learn more about it.
  • As was done for the 225th anniversary of the Trail, produce limited-edition scarves and ties.
  • While the National Park Service is focusing on 2026 for the Semiquincentennial, W3RUS and its state units have a focus extending to 2033.
  • With many portions of the Trail inaccessible by modern means of transportation, some of the terrain is the same as it was in 1781. Increase access to these areas to enable contemporary visitors to experience what Washington’s and Rochambeau’s forces experienced.
  • Utilize existing child-oriented programs in Virginia as templates for similar programs in all states.
  • Events are wonderful but we also need passionate people to research, preserve and interpret the Trail.
  • Don’t stop with the 250th; we need to think about how to continue our work to the 275th and beyond.

Have an idea to share? Please contact Larry or Ellen.

Committee reports: Highlights included:

  • Education: In the works – The Untold Story of Patriots in the Revolutionary War, aimed at middle-school students.
  • Fundraising: Annual giving emails for the Alliance Circle will be sent in December.
  • Membership: There has been a “modest increase” in recent months.
  • 2006 March to Yorktown: Ralph Nelson is reworking photos and files from a soon-tobe-terminated Web site for possible posting on the W3R-US Web site. Hopefully, a similar march will occur in 2031.
  • Travel app: The first draft of the script is being reviewed.
  • Advocacy: Awareness among local leaders continues to be developed. Regular contact continues with Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the 250th Commission.
  • Values: Expanded inclusion-oriented outreach continues to ALL ethnic and national communities involved with the Trail.

State reports: Highlights included:

  • Rhode Island: Replacement of 117 Trail markers is in the planning stages. The Battle of Rhode Island Association’s Web site, www.battleofrhodeisland.org, went live Aug. 29, the anniversary of the 1778 battle.
  • Connecticut: Jonathan Kinney has become state cochair. New members are being recruited.
  • New York: Restoration and research continue at the Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters. Revolutionary Westchester 250 is active on many fronts as the county, a crucial area throughout the war, prepares for the Semiquincentennial.
  • New Jersey: Four major events were held in four days in late August in conjunction with Trail anniversaries. Relationships with like-minded organizations, youth groups and reenactors were expanded.
  • Pennsylvania: Chair John Mitchell, after recent visits to Trail sites in the state, noted that many are in need of rehabilitation, possibly in collaboration with other groups.
  • Delaware: Recent activities include a bus trip for children to the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia and expanded outreach to the Hispanic community. A youth color guard has been recruited.
  • Maryland: New signs for some sites in Charles County have been approved by Johnny.
  • Virginia: Helped renovate the gardens at the French Memorial and French Cemetery in Yorktown. Working with Colonial National Historical Park to renovate the pavilion at Surrender Field in Yorktown. Collaborating with Volkssport and the prospective next The complete report is attached to the email that brought you this edition of The Bulletin. 7 president of the Children of the American Revolution in the state. Produced a rack card about the Trail in Virginia.

Call for volunteers: Larry reported that many committees are one-person operations and need the help of additional volunteers, especially from the ranks of the Board and the Leadership Council. Don’t wait to be asked, he said, just please come forward. … On a related topic, he said W3R-US volunteers are working many more hours than are being reported. Volunteer hours count toward matches for some grants. Timesheets are not required; just send your monthly totals – individuals, committees and state groups – to Director Sam Meredith at memogroup1127@admin.

In other business:

  • Larry noted that the new meeting format provided more time for special presentations of strategic importance and discussions but questioned whether this inadvertently shortchanged reports from committees and states. He invited comments.
  • Paul Carson of W3R-VA suggested that the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Program might be updated and modified to help educate young people about the Trail, including the lesser-known stories of its widely varied participants. The completed activities can be brought to a ranger for validation.
  • Larry encouraged everyone to share ideas and information with others at any time, not wait for a meeting.

Image of Marker Honoring de Grasse, French Navy Unveiled

Dr. Robert Selig offers introductory remarks as Nicole Yancey listens. Photos by Jeff Canning

An image of an interpretive marker honoring Admiral de Grasse and the French Navy’s role in securing U.S. independence was unveiled during an afternoon ceremony Oct. 18 on the Riverwalk in Yorktown.

The American Society of Le Souvenir Français and York County originally planned to unveil the plaque itself, which the program flier described as “another enduring symbol of French-American alliance and friendship.” But some of the metal supporting it was damaged in transit and needs to be replaced. Rather than cancel the ceremony, which attracted about 60 people to the Riverwalk near the statues of de Grasse and Generals Washington, Rochambeau and Lafayette, the sponsors decided to unveil the image.

Rear Admiral Frederic de Rupilly and Thierry Chaunu after they unveiled an image of the marker.

Nicole Yancey, chair of the W3RUS FrancoAmerican Committee and a member of the Plaque Committee, and Sheila A. Noll, chair of the York County Board of Supervisors, offered welcoming remarks.

In his introductory remarks, W3R-US Historian Dr. Robert Selig, who helped develop the contents of the marker, suggested that what it commemorates and illustrates is summarized in its title – “Admiral de Grasse, the French Navy, and American Independence.” De Grasse effectively chose the location of the deciding campaign of the Revolutionary War when he informed Washington and Rochambeau in the summer of 1781 that he was sailing to Virginia, not New York. The French Navy, after defeating the British in the Sept. 5 Battle of the Capes, prevented Cornwallis from escaping or being resupplied by sea, closing a ring that included allied forces around Yorktown and across the York River in Gloucester. The Navy also brought much-needed funds and more than 3,000 troops commanded by the Marquis de Saint-Simon. Without the indispensable work of the Navy, there would have been no Siege of Yorktown. The mutual respect among the allied commanders is illustrated by a drawing of de Grasse welcoming Washington aboard his flagship with the classic icebreaker, “Bienvenue, mon petit general,” or “Welcome, my little general.” 

Rear Admiral Frederic de Rupilly of the French Navy connected the importance of sea power in 1781 with its continuing relevance in the changing world of today. While the navies of the United States, France and the United Kingdom effectively dominated the high seas for decades after World War II, that dominance is less so now as new naval powers assert themselves, he said in a keynote speech. In another connection between then and now, he noted that, just as the United States sought to escape from the dominance of a “big brother” in 1781, so is Ukraine in 2022 and “this is our duty” to help. 

Richard Azzaro prepares to place the “Never Forget” bouquet. 

Thierry Chaunu, president of the American Society of Le Souvenir Français, heads an organization whose mission includes caring for the graves of French soldiers in the United States. “You can’t honor the dead if you don’t tell their stories,” the Connecticut resident said. “Those who did so much deserve to be honored.” 

Admiral de Rupilly and M. Chaunu then unveiled the image of the marker and placed flowers at its base.

Richard Azzaro of the Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, added a “Never Forget” bouquet, recalling the floral tribute placed on the casket of the U.S. serviceman at the end of World War I and entombed with him. The 11 white roses, in a bed of baby’s breath (reminiscent of falling snow), symbolize the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the Armistice ended the bloody horrors of more than four years of war. 

The ceremony ended with a moment of silence in honor of Admiral de Grasse and all the French sailors who died in the cause of American independence, and the hope of M. Chaunu to see everyone for the dedication of the real marker in 2023.

Among those attending the ceremony were several members of the crew of L’Hermione, a replica of “the frigate of freedom” that brought Lafayette back to the United States in 1780. The ship, which visited the United States in 2015, is now in France. Efforts are under way to fund extensive repairs.  

Diner Told About Markers Along Lafayette Route

Julien P. Icher

Julien P. Icher, the youthful and enthusiastic president and founder of The Lafayette Trail, told the annual Yorktown Day Association dinner that 110 trail markers have been placed to date marking the triumphant return visit of the Marquis de Lafayette to the United States from September 1824 to October 1825. 

The dinner was held Tuesday evening, Oct. 18, at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, with several members of W3R-US in attendance. 

The Marquis visited each of the 24 states in the growing nation whose independence he had helped secure – including the storming of Redoubt 10 during the siege of Yorktown – and was lavishly welcomed everywhere he went, hailed as a citizen of the world. 

Why such enthusiasm for Lafayette? As Julien explained to the packed room, he did not have to do what he did – at considerable personal expense – but he was absolutely passionate about the American cause. 

A new 18-minute video about Lafayette at Yorktown was played in an adjacent room after the dinner. For more information, please visit: https://www.thelafayettetrail.org/ 

Wreaths Placed at French Cemetery

Three wreaths and a “Never Forget” bouquet were placed at the French Cemetery. Photo by Jeff Canning

A brief but poignant ceremony Wednesday morning, Oct. 19, honored about 50 unidentified French soldiers who died during the Siege of Yorktown. 

The ceremony was held at the French Cemetery, in a forest clearing dominated by a large plain cross, that is thought to be the final resting place of the French soldiers and is maintained by the American Friends of Lafayette and W3R-VA. Three wreaths were placed during the ceremony – by Le Souvenir Français, Les Amis de Rochambeau (Friends of Rochambeau) and the American Friends of Lafayette, with Trail Administrator Johnny Carawan among those making the placements.  

Placement of a “Never Forget” bouquet, like the one placed the previous day during the unveiling of the image of a plaque honoring Admiral de Grasse and the French Navy, rounded out the ceremony honoring the unidentified soldiers. 

Dr. Selig Receives Medal at French Memorial…

Nicole Yancey presents the medal to Dr. Robert Selig. Consul General François Penguilly is at right. Photo by Jeff Canning

The French National Order of Merit was formally presented to Dr. Robert Selig, W3R-US Historian, during the traditional mid-morning ceremony Oct. 19 at the newly refurbished French Memorial. This prestigious honor recognizes his eminent work in the development of the Washington-Rochambeau Trail, and the nomination was published in a decree signed by French President Emmanuel Macron Feb. 7, 2022. 

The medal was presented to him by Nicole Yancey, chair of the W3R-US Franco-American Committee and former honorary consul of France in Virginia, and François Penguilly, consul general of France in Washington. Please see the February edition of The Bulletin for more information about the award. 

The French National Order of Merit Badge. Photo by Jeff Canning

French and American speakers recalled the foundation of the Franco-American alliance and, as one French officer emphasized, “the need for our brothers and sisters in this troubled world.” 

Eight wreaths were placed by various organizations, including one from W3R-US, with Larry Abell and Dave Meredith doing the honors. 

Members of W3R-VA and the American Friends of Lafayette initiated the renovation this summer of the plantings surrounding the Memorial, across from the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, as reported in the August edition of The Bulletin. The National Park Service funded the work. 

… and Delivers Keynote Address at Victory Monument 

Dr. Selig, in his keynote address during the Patriotic Exercises at the Monument to the Alliance and Victory after the Yorktown Day parade Oct. 19, mixed a lighthearted tone with a serious discussion of communications issues among the French and American allies in the Yorktown campaign. Fortunately, numerous members of both forces were bilingual and could interpret, greatly enhancing communication and cooperation down to the personal level, all of which paid dividends at the outcome in Yorktown. 

Dr. Selig speaks about communications issues during the Yorktown campaign. With him at the Monument to the Alliance and Victory are Jerri Marr, superintendent of Colonial National Historical Park, and Consul General François Penguilly. Photo courtesy of Dr. Selig

Still, problems persisted. During a scout in Gloucester, in the absence of a speaker of French, some militiamen were ordered to take cover during a skirmish rather than risk being misidentified. Members of Lauzun’s Legion spoke mostly German, also a challenge to American forces. Earlier, in Rhode Island, American drivers were assigned to the French wagons out of fear that American horses might not respond to commands issued in French. Anyone who has ever been in a situation where nobody spoke his/her language can sympathize, Dr. Selig suggested. 

But the communications issues were overcome, he said, with smiles, hand gestures, “good will, some thinking outside the box, a desire to help each other and, most importantly, a unity of purpose … the defeat of Britain, victory in the war against a common enemy, a joint struggle to achieve the independence of the United States. … That unity of purpose helped the allied armies through many a difficult time until they could celebrate victory.” 

W3R participants in the Yorktown Day parade, marching behind the banner of W3R-Virginia, included, from left, Jeff Canning, Melissa Sadler, Amy Parker and Trail Administrator Johnny Carawan. Photo by Dave Meredith

And celebrations abounded, among them the burial in New York of a log representing the military reputation of Cornwallis and a militia captain in New Jersey who, so drunk that he was unable to stand, lay on the floor and beat Yankee Doodle with his elbows. 

Today, Dr. Selig concluded, Oct. 19 remains a day of joy, commemoration and celebration, when raising a glass (alcoholic or otherwise) is in order.” Vive la France and God bless America!” 

Consul General François Penguilly delivered the official greetings of the Republic of France during the Exercises. Today, he said, we celebrate not only the victory but also the foundation of the alliance. “France is proud to be the oldest ally of the United States,” he declared. Today is not only an important historical date but “It inspires today and tomorrow, especially with war [in Ukraine] at the gates of Europe,” he added. “We stand united in the name of liberty and democracy.” 

Jerri Marr, superintendent of Colonial National Historical Park, noted that “It is one thing to declare independence, another to win it. This monument symbolizes our ideals and still inspires us today.” 

Jeff Canning 

An Invitation: Visit Our Online Store

Director Sam Meredith, Chair of the Earned Income Committee, invites shoppers to visit the W3R-US online store. The newest merchandise includes logo shirts and pens. Suggestions for merchandise should be sent to Sam at memogroup1127@gmail.com.

To visit the online store: https://w3rus.qbstores.com/a/login  

In another online shopping matter, you can support W3R-US when you shop at Amazon. Here’s how. Instead of going to amazon.com: 

1. Enter smile.amazon.com in your browser address bar. 

2. Shop and place your order. 

3. Amazon will donate a percentage of your order to W3R-US. 

Tracking Volunteer Service

Director Sam Meredith, who compiles the volunteer hours worked by W3R-US members, encourages state and committee chairs, as well as individuals, to report at least an estimate of their hours – group as well as individual totals – monthly, if possible. Hours include meetings, phone calls, advocacy, research, planning, events, travel and reading emails and documents from the national office, among other items, both national and state/local, and the totals affect efforts to obtain grants and other external support for W3R-US. Sam’s template includes space for donations in kind (such as office space and computer use). Please email your monthly reports to Sam at memogroup1127@gmail.com by the fifth of the following month. 

From the Editor

I hope you continue to enjoy The Bulletin and find it helpful in keeping abreast of the activities of The National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association on numerous fronts. Thank you for your input, assistance, suggestions, comments and other kind words. To keep up with all news of our Association, please check our Web site regularly: www.w3r-us.org.

As you may have noticed, I am still behind in publishing. This edition is devoted to events involving W3R-US Oct. 18-19 in conjunction with the annual commemoration in Yorktown, Virginia, of the surrender of British General Charles Cornwallis Oct. 19, 1781. The regular format, including reports on state activities, will return with the November edition. 

Please email stories and photos of your Trail-related activities to me at the address below, along with fliers, preferably in JPG format, about upcoming Trail events. Your comments, suggestions and questions are welcome. Please email me at historicaljeff@aol.com.

– Jeff Canning, National Recording Secretary █ 


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