By RCA President Colin Mills
Our New Town isn’t so new anymore.  Next year, we’re going to celebrate Reston’s
50th anniversary.  We’re a
community with a real history now.  And
to our credit, we’ve been taking steps to recognize and preserve that
history.  The Reston Museum, with its
series of talks about the early days of Reston, has done a great deal to
capture the stories of our past.  The
forthcoming movie “The Reston Story” should
also help in preserving our collective memory. 
And of course, Lake Anne Plaza is recognized by the County as a historic
However, there’s another aspect of our history that I
believe deserves some thought: how best to remember our most dedicated and
distinguished citizens.  Of course, we
have awards like Best of Reston
and RCA’s Citizen
of the Year
, which recognize the people who are doing good work in our community
currently.  But I’m thinking about
memorializing those Restonians who are no longer with us, but who made lasting
contributions that deserve to be remembered by future generations.  We should publicly honor those people who
helped make our community the great place it is today.
Now is the time to think about this.  The pioneer generation of Restonians is
getting older.  I wish they could all be
immortal (as Bob Simon appears to be), but unfortunately, they won’t be with us
forever.  We’re already starting to lose
some of them (Dave Edwards, Bill Nicoson, and founding RCA president Dick Hays
are three who come to mind from the last couple of years). 
These people helped build our community from the ground
up.  Driven by a love of Reston and a
desire to make Bob Simon’s vision a reality, they created and shaped the facilities
and institutions that we take for granted today.  Will they be remembered 50 years from now, or
even 20?  They should be.  And we can help ensure they are by creating
suitable memorials to their service.
It’s understandable that most things in Reston aren’t named
for notable Restonians.  At the time most
of them were built, we didn’t have famous or notable Restonians to recognize.  When you’re a New Town, you don’t have a
past.  (The area where Reston now sits
did have a past, of course, but one that we largely didn’t commemorate, with
the exception of Wiehle Avenue.)  We named
things after the nearby features (like South Lakes, Hunters Woods, or my
neighborhood growing up, Golf View Court), or we named them after famous people
with no particular connection to Reston (like Lakes Audubon and Thoreau, or
Langston Hughes Middle School).
Now, a half-century into the Reston story, we have a lot of
people who have done a lot for our community, and they should be remembered.  Naming things after notable Restonians is one
way that we can make this happen.
We do have examples of Reston institutions that have been
named after some of the early Restonians who served our community.  For instance, there’s the Embry Rucker
shelter, RA’s Vernon Walker Nature Education Center, and the Terry Smith
Aquatics Center at RCC Hunters Woods. 
Each of these is a fitting memorial to life and work of its
namesake.  Embry Rucker was a minister
who spent a lot of time helping and advocating for the less fortunate.  Vernon Walker was RA’s first Open Space and
Nature Center director, a man with a real love of nature.  And Terry Smith was a longtime RCC Board member
and a proud member and supporter of Reston’s swimming community.  They each did a lot to shape Reston’s
community, and I’m glad that their legacies live on in the facilities that bear
their names.
We should look to these examples as we seek to honor the
pioneer Restonians who created our community. 
The hardest part might be finding the best way to memorialize the folks
who served Reston in many capacities. 
Take Dave Edwards, for instance.  There are so many aspects of Reston that he
helped build that you could name almost anything after him.  You could name a street after him, in honor
of his expertise in transportation and his service on RA’s Transportation
Committee.  You could name a school after
him, in recognition of the work he did to get South Lakes High School
built.  You could name an RCC facility
after him, in honor of the leading role he played in its development.  You could name a village center after him, to
remember his background in planning and the ways he served Reston in that
capacity, from his time with the County’s Economic Development Authority to his
service on Reston’s Planning and Zoning Committee.  Any of these would be a fitting memorial, but
surely something in Reston should bear his name, considering how much he did to
build our community.
Even if we don’t want to rename existing Reston facilities,
the development that’s going to come along with the Silver Line will provide us
with several opportunities: new streets, new schools, new facilities.  Naming some of these after notable early
Restonians would help strengthen the connection between the station-area
development and the rest of the community, in addition to preserving our past
for future generations.
Reston is now a community with a history, and we’re making
an effort to preserve that history, which is great.  Let’s continue that trend by naming some of
our facilities after the dedicated citizens who built Reston into the community
it is today.  We should make sure that
their legacies will live on in Reston’s next 50 years, and beyond.
Now, I’d like to hear from you.  Who are the notable Restonians that you’d
like to see honored?  And what do you
think would be the best place to memorialize them?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the

Also, if you know of any Restonians whose community service
deserves recognition here and now, nominate them for Citizen of the Year.  The submission deadline is coming up fast, so
your form today!