The St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission, as it is officially titled, will open its first session at 10:00 a.m. in the Flagler College auditorium on Granada Street.
The meeting will be broadcast live on Flagler College Radio, WFCF-88.5, beginning at 9:45 a.m.
Among those attending, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who appointed the thirteen-member panel, Florida Senator Bill Nelson, and Congressman John Mica.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the community-at-large, including those who reside or have businesses outside the city limits, to witness this important first step in this important group’s responsibilities,” city officials said.
It is hoped that the Commission will ensure “a suitable national observance” of the 450th Anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine by Pedro Menendez in 1565.
Congress established the Commission as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 and charged it with complementing the programs and activities of the State of Florida and the City of St. Augustine.
Secretary Salazar announced the members of the Commission in April.
“I am pleased that these passionate and accomplished individuals have agreed to serve St. Augustine and our nation by serving on this Commission,” Secretary Salazar said. “As stewards of our nation’s great history, the Department of the Interior and the Commission will work to ensure that the story of St. Augustine and our Spanish ancestors is recognized and preserved for generations to come.”
As defined in its charter, the commission’s duties include:
– Plan, develop, and carry out appropriate programs and activities;
– Facilitate activities throughout the United States;
– Encourage civic, patriotic, historical, educational, artistic, religious, economic, and other organizations nationwide to organize and participate, to expand understanding and appreciation of the significance of the founding and continuing history of St. Augustine;
– Provide technical assistance to states, localities, and nonprofit organizations;
– Coordinate and facilitate scholarly research on, publication about, and interpretation of, St. Augustine;
– Ensure a lasting legacy and long-term public benefit by assisting in the development of appropriate programs;
– Help ensure that the observances appropriately recognize the experiences and heritage of all individuals present when St. Augustine was founded.
Members of the Federal Commission
– Joseph L. Boles, Jr., Mayor of St. Augustine
– Katharine H. Dickenson, Historic Preservationist
– Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade State Attorney
– Michael Francis, Professor of History, University of North Florida
– Michael Gannon, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History, University of Florida
– Bob Graham, former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator
– Jay Kislak, President, Kislak Mortgage Corp. and National Park Foundation Board Member
– Eduardo Padron, President, Miami Dade College
– Bruce Smathers, Former Florida Secretary of State
– Robert Stanton, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Department of the Interior
– Thomas S. Willis, Pastor, Cathedral Parish, St. Augustine, Florida
– Gordon Wilson, Superintendent, Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monument
– Andrew Young, former U.S. Representative, Mayor of Atlanta, and U.N. Ambassador