Adjutant General of Virginia 2020 Memorial Day Message
Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance where we pause and honor the military men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense our of ideals of liberty and justice. While we live in challenging times with the impacts of COVID-19, it is still important to honor our fallen comrades. We must never forget the Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who gave their lives in service to our country., and we should use Memorial Day to remember their courage and reaffirm our commitment to selfless service.
This year the Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony in Richmond will be virtual, but it still affords us an opportunity to remember the ten Virginia National Guard Soldiers lost to hostile enemy action while on federal active duty in service to their country since Sept. 11, 2001. They are among the 175 Virginians whose names are etched onto the Virginia War Memorial’s Shrine of Memory for the Global War on Terrorism and Beyond. The shrine, which opened in February 2020 as part of a new expansion to the War Memorial, sits adjacent to the original Shrine of Memory, which includes the names Virginians who died during World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War. In total, the two shrines honor nearly 12,000 Virginians who gave their lives for freedom.
Read more about the Virginia National Guard’s fallen warriors remembered at the Virginia War Memorial at https://go.usa.gov/xw3cv/.
It is also appropriate to remember the men and women who died in the line of duty on official state or federal orders under Title 32 of the United States Code whose names are on the Commonwealth Public Safety Memorial. Thirty two Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are remembered among the nearly 900 Virginia public safety officers at the memorial site at Capitol Square in Richmond.
Read more about the Public Safety Memorial at https://go.usa.gov/xmGB6.
For those of us here in Virginia with close ties to the 29th Infantry Division and the 116th Infantry Regiment, Memorial Day also has meaningful context as we approach the 76th anniversary of D-Day on June 6. More than 800 members of the 116th were killed, wounded or missing during the assault on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, but their courage and bravery helped create a foothold that allowed follow on forces to continue the assault and set the stage for Allied victory in Europe. We honor their service and sacrifice as well as other branches of the service at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia.
Given the pace of our operations for the last two months, I hope many of you will be able to take a well-deserved break and spend time with loved ones this weekend. As we do that, we should all remember there are still people on duty here in Virginia supporting COVID-19 response operations, as well as men and women on federal active duty overseas. We thank them as well as all the other service members on duty across the globe. We will keep them in our thoughts on prayers and look forward to their safe return.
It isn’t easy to balance the demands of our dual-status mission of defending both commonwealth and country, and I appreciate all the effort and teamwork. We also owe special thanks to our families and employers for their essential support to the Virginia National Guard. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish our mission.
It is an honor to serve with you.
Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams
28th Adjutant General of Virginia