RICHMOND, Va. -- Veterans, alongside friends and families of fallen soldiers, packed the Virginia War Memorial Monday for its 67th annual Memorial Day Celebration Monday morning.
The memorial itself is a reminder of the thousands of Virginians who served, sharing their stories, detailing their connection to the Commonwealth.
"This is the place where we honor the fallen, from the Bedford Boys and other heroes from WII to our soldiers lost in the last two decades to the Global War on Terror," said Major General Timothy Williams, who spoke at the ceremony.
During the ceremony, two high school students were announced Marocchi Scholarship Winners, pledging to join ROTC programs while attending university in-state. Jenny Calderon from York County is one of the scholarship winners, planning to join the Air Force ROTC at the University of Virginia. Edward McFall of Newport News is the other, planning to join the Navy ROTC at Virginia Tech.
Speaker Craig Crenshaw, Virginia's Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, reminded attendees that those who were called to service, yet never returned home, have something in common.
"When they made these sacrifices, they were just ordinary individuals who were doing our nation's bidding. Who had families. Families they left behind," Crenshaw said. "So we honor them, and we honor their families."
Gov. Glenn Youngkin shared a keynote address, sharing the sentiment that although no new names have been added to the Virginia War Memorial thus far this year, each name, no matter the time period, carries weight.
"The memorial has grown and amassed a weight, and a meaning, that speaks to the cost," Youngkin said. "The cost of enduring freedom. Real human lives."
Both Youngkin and Major General Williams both asked the crowd, either in service or not, to continue to share the stories of those who sacrificed.
"As we rapidly see our WWII veterans fade away, it becomes more critical to get the word out and for all of us to tell our military story," Major General Williams said. "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, for our ideals, as well as for our way of life."
"Can we as individuals, can we as Virginians, can we as Americans, live up to their sacrifice?" Youngkin asked. "The answer is, that we must."
WTVR broadcast the Memorial Day Celebration on CBS 6, WTVR.com and our CBS 6 Streaming App. We're on Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon Fire or Roku. Search: WTVR Richmond. You can also watch the special on the WTVR CBS 6 YouTube channel.
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