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The first time that Communion was held off the planet was when astronaut Buzz Aldrin did so on the moon.
BY CLINT SCHEMMER
Like monarch butterflies to Mexico's Sierra Madre mountains, people flock to Germanna--the storied Virginia place from whence their kin come--each summer.
And so it was, this weekend, that hundreds of descendants of the German immigrants who settled Virginia's Colonial frontier journeyed to the Fredericksburg area.
Some 250 people from across the United States took part in this year's reunion of Germanna families, held at historic sites in Orange, Culpeper and Madison counties. They trace their ancestry to the immigrants who built Fort Germanna on the Rapidan River in 1714, under the patronage of Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood, and settled the region.
"It was one of the largest reunions ever," said Marc Wheat, president of the board of trustees of the Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies in Virginia. "We were surprised because the economy has been so poor that we were expecting a big drop-off."
Over three days, ending yesterday, Germanna descendants dedicated a new trail in Orange County, received Communion at a Colonial church in Madison County and raised funds to preserve the historic Salubria mansion in Culpeper County.
And on the eve of today's 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, they noted Germanna's connection to that mission to the moon.
It turns out that NASA astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin is a direct descendant of the Rev. Henry Häger, the German Reformed Church pastor at Fort Germanna, said Wheat, whose genealogical database traces that link.
"Not many people know this, but after Neil Armstrong had landed the Eagle on the moon, Buzz took out a Communion set from his church in Texas, and had Communion," he said. "Imagine: The first time that Communion was held off the planet and it was done by a Germanna descendant."
That event--which NASA kept hush-hush for years--was clearly on the minds of many of the 150-plus people who attended yesterday's service at Hebron Lutheran Church in Madison, he said.