Photo Gallery: Downtown Leesburg Observes Memorial Day
The annual ceremony has taken place in the town for at least 30 years. It honors the men and women who fought bravely for our country.
An annual Memorial Day Observance took place at the Loudoun County Courthouse Monday morning, where soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen, who have served in defense of our country, were recognized.
Loudoun County High School's NJROTC posted the colors while Boy Scout Troop 1159 and Girls Scouts Association 70 led the Pledge of Allegiance. The national anthem was performed by The Songbirds and a prayer was offered by Father John Paul Mosimann of St. John the Apostle Roman Catholic Church. Patriotic music, military re-enactors, the laying of the wreaths and a traditional rifle salute were also a part of the ceremony.
“This is one of the most important events that the town sponsors every year and it’s important, especially in these days of conflict overseas, that our troops know how much we value their service and the service of those who have gone before,” said Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd, who served in the Navy from 1980 to 1984. She was in the Navy Reserve until 1987. “It is what makes America free,” she noted.
Stanley Caulkins, owner of Caulkins Jewelers, had a front-row seat Monday morning. He served in the Air Force from 1943 to 1946 as part of the 96th Bomb Group in England during World War II.
“During the war we had 11 million Americans, plus or minus, in uniform. I came out of high school and five years later I was in the Air Force,” Caulkins said. “It wasn’t a choice. I chose the Air Force over being a foot soldier by volunteering. I enlisted because I wanted to fly.”
Caulkins said he is honored to have served in the military and enjoys what the town does to support the veterans.
“This is a living tribute to the guys who died for us and we should never forget them,” Caulkins said. “Our country, as strong as we are, we need to keep freedom as a foremost thing.”
Ken Fleming, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, participated in Monday’s ceremony as an infantry soldier fromm the 8th Virginia Infantry, Company F, from the Confederate States Army from the Civil War. It was his ninth year to attend the special event.
“This is how we pay our respects to those who have fallen for us,” Fleming said. “It’s our duty. That’s the least we can do.”
This year’s featured speaker was Major General Charles E. Williams, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (retired) of Potomac Falls. Williams is a 29-year United States Army veteran who served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, ferrying engineers under enemy fire to repair roads or install wells.
Other special guests attending the ceremony included Leesburg VFW Post #1177, American Legion Post #34 and local musicians from area high schools.