Posted on Mar 11, 2018

In a rare event, 30 members of the Rappahannock Rotary Club were recognized as Paul Harris Fellows at the club’s morning meeting last week.

In a rare event, 30 members of the Rappahannock Rotary Club were recognized as Paul Harris Fellows at the club’s morning meeting last week.

“A Paul Harris Fellow is an individual who contributes $1,000—or in whose name that amount is contributed—to the Rotary Foundation,” said Rotary District Governor Ronnie Chantker.

“Some programs supported by this money include maternal and child health, disease prevention, peace and conflict resolution, basic education and literacy, and Polio Plus, a program designed to eradicate polio from the world, to name a few,” Chantker said.

Paul Harris founded Rotary more than 100 years ago to help achieve world understanding and peace through international humanitarian, educational, and cultural exchange programs. It is supported completely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of of the foundation. The Fellowship was established in Harris’ honor in 1957.

The Rappahannock Rotary Club has 114 active members, and they are 100 percent Paul Harris Fellows.

“You are an unusual club and we greatly appreciate each one of you,” said district foundation chairwoman Juanita Cawley, visiting from West Point. “Last year to the annual fund you contributed over $40,000, and this year to polio you’ve already given over $5,000.”

Cawley added that the Rotary Foundation is rated with a perfect score on Charity Navigator, a charity watchdog organization that evaluates charitable organizations in the United States.

“Your club knows where that money goes and how well it is used,” Cawley said.

Keynote speaker at the event was Jamie Bosket, president and CEO of the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, previously the Virginia Historical Society. Bosket was appointed to lead the museum in February 2017, at age 33.

“I don’t think I’ve stood in front of a Rotary club since I was in high school and was awarded a scholarship from my local Rotary Club in New York state,” Bosket said. “And believe it or not, that was more than just a year ago,” he added, laughing.

Rotarian John Coker said he and his wife Linda invited Bosket to speak because they have been members of the Virginia Historical Society for many years and want to encourage more people to recognize its value.

“Founded in 1831, it is the oldest cultural organization in the commonwealth of Virginia, and one of the oldest and most distinguished history organizations in the nation,” Coker said.

The museum houses a collection of nearly 9 million items and serves as a state history museum with permanent and fixed exhibitions, as well as a variety of public events.

Before coming to Richmond, Bosket worked nearly 10 years at Mount Vernon, filling increasingly complex executive positions. He also serves on the boards of the Virginia Association of Museums and the Alexandria Historical Society.

After 187 years, Bosket noted, the VMHC has been given a new name and identity that more accurately reflects what the original institution has grown to become.

“We are the only place that collects and tells the entire story of the Commonwealth of Virginia—16,000 years of history,” Bosket said. “We have one of the largest collections in the country, and by far one of the largest history collections in the Mid-Atlantic.”

Bosket discussed two current exhibitions at the museum commemorating the centennial of World War I.  “It’s amazing to think about World War I—‘The war to end all wars,’ ‘The Great War’—but now it’s one of the wars that we tend to forget about,” Bosket said. “And yet this war had tremendous impact on Virginia and the nation.”

“The Commonwealth and the Great War,” on display at the museum through Nov. 18, focuses specifically on the role of Virginia and Virginians in the war, including universities such as Virginia Tech and the Virginia Military Institute, as well as the origins of Virginia’s largest military installations.

“WWI America” is the largest traveling exhibition about the Great War, and will be at the museum until July 29. Hundreds of original artifacts are on display, with personal narratives the show the impact on the home front.

“Four years of slaughter and destruction dissolved empires, sowed the seeds of democracy as well as those of Communism, Nazism, and Fascism,” Bosket said. “The United States at the end emerged as a recognized superpower.”

Interactive exhibits at the museum explore the variety and quantity of U.S. products shipped overseas. A movie house has been recreated, showing popular films of the period, and guests can take the first-ever written IQ test given to recruits.

Some of the unique items that can be seen include seats from the Lusitania, President Woodrow Wilson’s hat and cane, the gas mask of baseball legend Christy Mathewson, and Harry Houdini’s handcuffs. The illusionist taught soldiers going to war how to escape from the enemy.

“The war changed the commonwealth. It changed our economy, it changed our government, and most importantly it changed the lives of many Virginians,” Bosket said. “Despite the enormity of this war’s impact, the current generation spends little or no time talking about the consequences of this struggle.”

Emily Jennings - The Free Lance-Star