Governor Jack Markell today honored former Delaware Secretary of State Edward J. Freel as the recipient of the 2016 Governor’s Heritage Award.
In a ceremony held at the Delaware Public Archives with a large crowd of family, friends, and colleagues, the governor spoke of Mr. Freel’s commitment to the First State through his major role in the construction of the current Archives facility and his establishment of The Democracy Project at the University of Delaware.
“Ed has devoted his life to making our state a better place, whether as a public official working on policies that improve the lives of Delawareans or as a teacher transferring his passion for service to countless students,” said Gov. Markell. “No one is prouder of Delaware’s heritage than Ed and I’m thrilled that we have this opportunity to honor his incredible work to preserve our past while helping build an ever-brighter future.”
Established in 2003 by the Office of the Secretary of State, the Governor’s Heritage Award is presented to individuals who have made a distinguished contribution to the recognition, preservation, and celebration of Delaware’s heritage.
“I am honored and humbled to receive the Governor’s Heritage Award. As I looked at the previous distinguished recipients, I saw three who were personal mentors to me: Jim Soles, Bill Quillen, and Skipper Purnell,” Mr. Freel said. “Beyond any individual recipient, what is significant about this reward is the fact that the governor and the state pause to reflect on the importance of our heritage and the essential principles of democracy and civic engagement that are woven into Delaware’s history.”
“Ed Freel embodies a spirit of public service to the people of Delaware that we should all admire,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “Throughout his tenure in public life, and especially when he held the office of Secretary of State, Ed has been an advocate for the institutions and organizations charged with preserving our heritage for future generations. I thank him for his years of effort, as well as his enduring friendship and counsel.”
In 1994, a group of citizens concerned with the deteriorating condition of the Archives facility solicited the signatures of thousands of Delawareans supporting the construction of a new building. As secretary of state during Gov. Thomas Carper’s administration, Mr. Freel’s leadership guided the construction of a new, state-of-the-art Delaware Public Archives, which opened in 2001.
In his role at the University of Delaware, Mr. Freel manages The Democracy Project, which promotes civic engagement among young people and a better understanding of citizen responsibilities in a democratic society. Each year the Democracy Project sponsors the Institute for Teachers, which aims to improve the teaching of civics in Delaware schools. Through the Institute, instructors have the opportunity to meet with public figures and develop new and innovative lesson plans for the classroom. Over the past 18 years, more than 200 teachers have participated in the program.