Sitting in his downtown Washington, D.C., office, the Hon. John H. Dalton has a view of the Old Post Office Pavilion. His office is filled with memorabilia that reflect a life of public service at the highest level: framed letters from Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, all congratulating him on his sixtieth birthday; photographs of him with former heads of state; and a photograph of him and his wife, Margaret, with Pope John Paul ii. But the former Secretary of the Navy lights up the most when talking about Naval Academy football. Navy Commander in Chief football rings line his desk, gifts from Navy’s athletic director from the seven consecutive years Navy won. A special helmet given to him by the team following this year’s Army/Navy game bears the number 70, in honor of his service as the seventieth Secretary of the Navy.
The Daltons are also devoted supporters of Washington National Cathedral. Secretary Dalton has served on the Cathedral Chapter since 2007, and both he and Mrs. Dalton joined the Cathedral Congregation when it was formed and are regular “front-row” worshipers on Sundays.
“We love to worship there,” said Mrs. Dalton. “We try to be as active as we can in different aspects of Cathedral life. I volunteer at Friendship Place to help cook hot meals for the homeless each week. No matter what activity we’re involved with, the Cathedral just fills our lives with exactly what we need.”
Secretary Dalton recalls the privilege of being invited by Dean Nathan Baxter to guest preach at a Veterans Day service in 1997 while he was in office. Less than 10 years later, he and Mrs. Dalton were invited by a friend to attend the installation of Dean Sam Lloyd, and they were hooked. “We’ve found it very meaningful to be part of the Cathedral’s life,” Secretary Dalton said. He has since become increasingly involved with the worshiping community, serving as a Communion minister and a lay reader.
The Daltons have also expressed a love for the beautiful Cathedral building, whose preservation needs they powerfully recognize—especially following last year’s earthquake. As a result, they recently decided to complement their generous annual operating support with a Charitable Gift Annuity that names the Cathedral as beneficiary. “The Cathedral is a very special place, but it’s been through some challenging times in recent years,” said Secretary Dalton. “Margaret and I want to do what we can so that it continues to inspire others.”
“We wanted to do our part to ensure that the Cathedral continues with its entire mission,” emphasized Mrs. Dalton. “The Cathedral is such a wonderful place, not just to Washington but also to the rest of the country. Having no denominational or federal funding means that it is incumbent upon all of us who love the Cathedral to support it.”
“We see the Cathedral serving, every day, as the spiritual home for the nation,” Secretary Dalton concluded. “It’s called upon to serve presidents at the beginning of their tenures and when they are laid to rest. I’m aware of the Cathedral’s presence at so many of the important moments in our nation’s history, continuing with the service following 9/11. We want to ensure the Cathedral is always able to be there for the American people in that way.”
As for Navy football, Mrs. Dalton is equally as passionate as Secretary Dalton. “I’m a huge fan,” she admitted. “The Academy is just like the Cathedral to us. If the doors are open, we’re there.”