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Wantagh Historical Society Honors George Washington

Local civic group holds presentation on America's first president.

The , a group founded in 1965 with the mission of improving the historical value of Wantagh, joined together on Feb. 21 to honor the history of America's first president.

George Washington was the subject of the civic group's February program, which was held on Washington's 279th birthday at the . Wantagh Preservation Society 1st Vice President Christopher Wendt gave the presentation, which covered Washington's life and influence in our country's earliest history.

"We've been blessed with many gifted leaders but I don't think any are comparable to George Washington," said Wendt, who in addition to his involvement with the Wantagh Preservation Society is also a past Wantagh Board of Education president.

Wendt's presentation began with Washington's death, and the eulogy given to him by Virginia Congressman Henry Lee, emphasizing the words, "first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life." Wendt then shared photographs of his 1999 trip to Washington's former home at Mount Vernon in Virginia, where he was chosen to lay a wreath at Washington's gravesite.

The presentation then traced Washington's steps through life, from his early life in Pope's Creek Virginia, to his rise as a member of the British Army.  Wendt then covered Washington's appointment as Commander in Chief of the Army in 1775, as well as his reading of the Declaration of Independence to the Army on July 9, 1776.

"Washington saw the importance of motivating his troops," said Wendt. " That really was important during the hard times that our Army faced during the Revolutionary War."

Major battles of the Revolutionary War were discussed, including the 1776 Battle of Long Island that was held in Brooklyn. Wendt said that Washington's role as a leader during the harsh winters at Valley Forge is one reason that his legacy has endured.

"It's a major testament to Washington's character that he got his men through such horrific conditions,” he said.

Wendt then covered the time Washington spent after the war, from his two terms as our country's first president, to his refusal to seek a third term. The presentation then ended where it began - with Washington's death at Mount Vernon in 1799. 

Wendt’s presentation served its purpose, and educated the community about one of the most important figures in American history.  He paid Washington a higher compliment, saying that our First President is without peer.

"A lot of people have come and gone without really making an impact,” he said. “Washington is different.  He is the central figure of our history."

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