RICHMOND, Va. –
Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force celebrated, honored and remembered the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country May 29, 2023, at multiple Memorial Day ceremonies across the state.
Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, delivered remarks and laid a wreath at the Virginia War Memorial Shrine of Memory honoring Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen along with Command Chief Master Sergeant Kelly B. Reich, VNG Senior Enlisted Leader, at the Commonwealth’s 67th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin was the keynote speaker and also laid the Commonwealth of Virginia Wreath with Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Craig Crenshaw.
“We come together today to remember,” Youngkin said. “We come together to pay tribute to our nation’s fallen heroes. We must never forget. We are gathered here as one community, one commonwealth, one nation, to pause and remember the lives of the brave men and women who died so that we may live freely and proudly as Americans. It is a tall and impossible order to find the right words to adequately honor these heroes. They gave their last full measure of devotion to this country and with their last breath on earth enshrined their love for freedom in our nation’s heart.”
During his remarks, Williams spoke about his nine years as Adjutant General of Virginia coming to a close and gaining a perspective about how the Virginia War Memorial provided such an important and tangible connection to Virginia’s fallen service members further broadened by the human connection with Gold Star families whose resiliency through tremendous sacrifice is such an inspiration.
“For the Virginia National Guard, this is the place where we honor the fallen from the Bedford Boys and other heroes from World War II to our Soldiers lost in the last two decades of the Global War on Terror,” Williams said. “Let us never forget the price they paid along with their other fellow Virginians to help keep us free.”
Williams also talked about the importance of telling the story of veterans to the community at large.
“This place tells a story and continues to evolve and grow into the future to meet that mission,” he said. “And then everyone who comes here whether it’s for the first time or the 30th, each of us is a part of that mission. In these days as we rapidly see our World War II veterans fade away, it becomes more critical to get the word out and for all of us to tell our military’s story. Our nation’s existence may actually depend on it in terms of building a population that is willing to serve, willing to stand up for our democracy, our ideals and our way of life.”
VNG Spc. Timothy Edgerton led the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Troutville-based 29th Infantry Division Band provided ceremonial music for the event. Members of the Virginia Defense Force volunteered their time to assist with access control for the ceremony.
The 29th ID Band also performed at Memorial Day events at the Mecklenburg County Veterans Memorial Monument in Clarksville and the Virginia Veterans Cemeteries in Dublin and Amelia.
Brig. Gen. James W. Ring, Assistant Adjutant General of Virginia, delivered the keynote address at the Potomac Regional Veterans Council Memorial Day Ceremony at Quantico National Cemetery in Triangle, Virginia. Ring also placed a memorial wreath along with Col. Michael L. Brooks, Marine Corps Base Quantico commanding officer, and Damion M. Jacobs, Assistant Director of Quantico National Cemetery.
“On this Memorial Day we come together to reflect on the price of freedom and to pay tribute to those who gave their lives that we may live freely,” Ring said. “We will ensure that the memory of their lives and service is never forgotten and remains alive in our hearts, and in our minds and in our Nation’s remembrance. We are forever grateful, and we honor them for their selfless service and sacrifice.”
Ring also said it was important to honor and remember the families left behind who bear the weight of their loved one’s absence.
“To those families and loved ones, we offer our deepest gratitude and extend our thoughts and prayers for your loss,” he said. “Your sacrifices are immeasurable, and we also remember you on this Memorial Day.”
Ring will succeed Williams as the Adjutant General of Virginia during a change of command ceremony scheduled for June 3.
“He’s had an exemplary career,” Youngkin said referring to Williams’ pending retirement. “On behalf of the commonwealth, we want to thank you for your leadership and wish you and Cheryl the very best for your retirement.”
Virginia Soldiers and Airmen are remembered along with their fellow Virginians at the Virginia War Memorial and the Virginia Public Safety Memorial.
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.
Ten VNG Soldiers have been lost to hostile enemy fire since Sept. 11, 2001, and you can read more at https://ngpa.us/25489
Thirty-two Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who died in the line of duty on official state or federal orders under Title 32 of the United States Code are remembered at the Commonwealth Public Safety Memorial at Capitol Square in Richmond, Virginia, along with the nearly 900 Virginia public safety officers. Read more about the memorial at https://ngpa.us/25490