John O. Marsh, counsellor to former President Gerald Ford, is scheduled to be keynote speaker Monday at the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association's celebration of George Washington's 245th birtherday in Alexandria.
President Jimmy Carter and Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd will be named to the association's roster of honorary members during the ceremonies, which will begin 11:45 a.m. at the Friendship Fire Shrine.
Carter and Byrd both were invited to the ceremonies, but declined due to schedule conflicts, said association president Marshall J. Beverley.
Besides Marsh, who is also a Washington attorney, other guests at the ceremonies will include Virginia Lieutenant Governor John Dalton. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Charirman Jack Herrity and Alexandria Mayor Frank Mann. They will be named honorary members for their "leadership at state and local levels," Beverley said.
Dr. Carson L. Fifer, an Alexandria surgeon, and Stanley Crane, new president of Southern Railways and a former Alexandria resident, also will be named honorary members of the association.
The T. C. Williams High School band and the Mt. Vernon guards will perform during the ceremonies in front of the fire shrine at 107 S. Alfred Street.
The association was organized in 1774 and lists George Washington as a member. Beverley, a former Alexandria mayor who put new life into the association by bolstering its member ship and rennovating the firehouse during the 1950s, says membership now stands around 900.
Honorary members include every U.S. President since 1952 and other luminaries such as Winston Churchill, astronauts Neil Armstrong and John Glenn, evangelist Billy Graham, generals W.C. Westmoreland and Douglas MacArthur and millionaire Howard Hughes who once sent a $100 check to the asociation, Beverley said.
The fire association hasn't fought any fires since 1871 when hand pumpers went out of use. Since Friendship firehouse was restored from a dilapidated old building in 1952 to a public shrine, the association has made its function to collect and preserve antique firefighting equipment like water pails used in bucket brigades, large wood axes, old hose nozzles and firemen's uniforms.
An 1849 fire pumper was returned to the firehouse two weeks ago after a year's nationwide tour on the Freedom Train, Beverley said.
Three years ago Alexandria's human relations council charged publicly that the association discriminated against blacks. The association still has no black members.
"We are a private, non-profit association whose aims are to foster and perpetuate the memory of George Washington and his associates," Beverley said. "Our purpose is historical.We are not a club."