The General Steuben Award
The Valley Forge Park Alliance is proud to present the annual General Steuben Award, the first and only award bestowed by the Alliance. The award honors Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, who came to the Valley Forge winter encampment in 1778 and served without pay to transform forces from multiple states into a unified professional army. The award recognizes those who embody General Steuben’s characteristics of enduring commitment, dedicated leadership, and devotion to teamwork, meaningfully demonstrating the spirit of Valley Forge.
The General Steuben Award honorees may be, but are not limited to, leaders of projects and programs directly benefiting the park, government officials who have supported the park through special efforts, and organizers who bring people together in service to their community or country. Those employed by the National Park Service are not eligible.
The 2016 Steuben Award was presented to PECO for its commitment to Valley Forge National Historical Park, its many visitors, and the vitality of our community. Steve Singh received the award on behalf of PECO and commented on PECO’s long-standing partnership with Valley Forge National Historic Park and the Friends of Valley Forge Park.
“We believe in the positive impact they are making, not only on the community, but also on visitors of all ages from all over the world who come to visit each year to experience American history and enjoy the beauty of this park” said Mr. Singh during the award presentation on Heritage Night.
Congratulations PECO and thank you for all your support!
- Countless hours from PECO employee volunteers to assist the park with stream water clean-up, trail maintenance, hut restoration and more.
- PECO Podcast Through History – funding for a 10 episode series which highlights the history of Valley Forge and the important strides that were made here by the Continental Army during the winter of 1777–1778.
- Financial contributions to underwrite expense to preserve 18th century historical documents.
- Sponsorship support for the Valley Forge Revolutionary 5-Mile Run™ and the July 4th Community Picnic in the Park, helping thousands of visitors and local residents to celebrate our nation’s independence.
- Funding to place 2,000 wreaths at the National Memorial Arch as a part of Wreaths Across America, which memorializes America’s fallen soldiers and commemorates the men and women who have served in the US Armed Forces, beginning with the American Revolution.
Pictured, left to right: Alliance President Don Naimoli, Suzanne Ryan of PECO, Steven Singh of PECO, and Alliance Executive Director Missy Farkouh
Sherrin H. and Bruce A. Baky are the recipients of the second annual General Steuben Award, honoring their respect for heritage, a visionary leadership of the Friends, and commitment to bringing the extraordinary stories of the American Revolution to all people.
During his time as chairman, Bruce A. Baky reinvented The Friends of Valley Forge Park. Working actively in tandem with the Park, he grew the board of the Friends, increased the membership five-fold, and strengthened the relationship between the Friends, the Park, the community, and academic institutions. His love for Valley Forge ran deep, and every Thursday for nine years Bruce volunteered at Washington’s Headquarters, always impeccably outfitted in the uniform of a Continental Army officer.
Sherrin Baky is without equal when it comes to connecting the stories of the American Revolution with those who want to hear them. Her thoughtful sponsorship has given us the Friends Speaker Series, major presentations at the Lock, Stock, and Barrel symposiums on the American Revolution, and two Bruce A. Baky Valley Forge Fellows at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Steuben Award is given to those who embody General Steuben’s characteristics of enduring commitment, dedicated leadership, and devotion to teamwork, meaningfully demonstrating the Spirit of Valley Forge. The award is posthumously presented to Bruce Baky for his vision and work to create a vibrant, citizen-based group of supporters and advocates for Valley Forge and further championed by Sherrin Baky’s dedication to keeping the stories of the American Revolution relevant and accessible to all.
Jim Gerlach, congressman of the 6th District of Pennsylvania, received the inaugural General Steuben Award from the Friends of Valley Forge Park on June 20 at their 2014 Annual Members Reception.
“When we were looking at who should be the first winner of the General Steuben Award, we knew Jim Gerlach was the right person,” said Don Naimoli, chair of the board of directors of the Friends. “Because of his years of support and guidance to the Friends and the park, we were able to complete an essential trail connection that not only makes the trail more enjoyable, but also much safer. He truly embodies General Steuben’s commitment to leadership.”
About Jim Gerlach
A lifelong Pennsylvania resident, Jim Gerlach grew up in Ellwood City – a town about an hour north of Pittsburgh. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dickinson College and a Juris Doctor from the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He currently lives in Chester Springs, Chester County with his wife, Karen, and they have three children and three step-children.
Jim has served the citizens of Southeastern Pennsylvania for more than 20 years. His distinguished career began in 1990 with the first of two terms in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, which was followed by two terms in the Pennsylvania Senate. Jim is serving his sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing portions of Berks, Chester, Lebanon and Montgomery counties. In December 2010, he earned a spot on the influential House Ways and Means Committee. Jim serves on the Ways and Means Subcommittees on Health and Select Revenue.
One of his biggest legislative accomplishments was creating a much-needed veterans cemetery here in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The bill Jim authored was signed into law by the President on Veterans Day in 2003, and the cemetery opened in Bucks County in 2009.
About General von Steuben
Born a commoner in 1730, Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand von Steuben served on the general staff of Frederick the Great during the Seven Years’ War. After the war ended, Steuben was dismissed from the army when Frederick the Great drastically reduced military spending. For the next twelve years, Steuben worked as the chamberlain of the kingdom of Hohenzollern-Hechingen. By the mid-1770s, he had restyled himself as a baron, but was in fact desperate for money and a better position. At this low point in his life, Steuben met Benjamin Franklin in Paris who recognized him as an experienced soldier who could bring order to the Continental Army.
Upon Washington’s recommendation, Congress appointed Steuben as a Major General and the Inspector General of the Continental Army. Steuben promptly formed a model company of soldiers and trained them to march, use the bayonet, and execute orders quickly on the battlefield. In turn, this company trained all the able-bodied soldiers at Valley Forge. Steuben also worked with Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette to create a training manual for the Continental Army. Known as the Blue Book, the manual guided the American army all the way through the War of 1812.When the Continental Army finally marched out of Valley Forge in June 1778, the well-trained Americans nearly bested the British at the Battle of Monmouth, and set the tone for the remainder of the war.
If you have the name of someone you think would be a suitable candidate for the General Steuben Award, please call 610-783-1777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All nominations will be considered by the General Steuben Award Committee and the Executive Committee of the Valley Forge Park Alliance.