RICHMOND, Va. — Each year on Memorial Day we remember the military men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the ideals of freedom we all cherish. I hope that each of you will pause at some point during the long weekend for a personal moment of silence to honor our fallen comrades.
It is important that we never forget the Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who gave their lives in service to our country. We should remember their courage, and also use this time to reaffirm our commitment to selfless service. The legacy of excellence embodied by those we remember on Memorial Day should motivate us all.
On Monday at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, we 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, as well as the other 290 Virginians who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Global War on Terror. In total, there are 11,479 Virginians who died while serving in the armed forces in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and the Global War on Terror who are recognized at the Virginia War Memorial. They and their families remain in our thoughts and prayers.
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.
Memorial Day this year has an even more meaningful context as we approach the 75th anniversary of D-Day. On June 6 we will honor the service and sacrifice of Virginia National Guard Soldiers as well as other branches of the service at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford and at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. More than 800 members of the 116th Infantry 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
I hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, and please be safe in whatever activities you have planned. We need every Soldier, Airman, Virginia Defense Force member and civilian employee in order to accomplish our missions, and more importantly, your families need you too.
Please remember that not everyone is home with their loved ones this holiday weekend, and there are men and women in our Armed Forces who are still deployed far from home. Nearly 100 Virginia National Guard personnel are mobilized overseas on federal active duty, and we are proud of their service and look forward to their safe return.
Thanks so much to each of you for effort you make to support our dual-status mission of guarding both the commonwealth and the nation. I also want to extend a special thanks to our families and employers for their critical support to you and the Virginia National Guard. We couldn’t get our mission done without them.
It is an honor to serve with you.
Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams
28th Adjutant General of Virginia