A Day of Remembering in Clarke County

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On a warm Sunday afternoon, the Town of Berryville gathered with friends and visitors to remember those who have served and   sacrificed for our country. Crowds gathered on the lawn around the gazebo in Rose Hill Park to enjoy music and speeches to celebrate and remember. The Clarke County High School Band, directed by Mark Curry, provided renditions of the National Anthem and “Solas Ane.” Soaring vocals were provided by the Clarke County High School Chorus Directed by Ryan Keebaugh. From the gazebo John Hudson , Senior Vice President and Marketing Director of Bank of Clarke County,   performed a solo rendition of “God Bless America.”

After the Sons of the American Revolution (James Wood Chapter) placed the colors Mayor Wilson Kirby welcomed everyone and took a few moments to recognize recent graduate from the US Coast Guard Academy, Bill Veilleux as well as visitors from the nearby VA hospital in Martinsburg and Wounded Warriors from Walter Reed Medical Center.

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Lieutenant General Eric B. Schoomaker, Commander US Army Medical Command stepped to the mic to introduce the keynote speaker. His comments set the tone for remembering. He recounted an incident from Christmas of 2008 when the only American to be killed in Iraq on that day was Army trauma surgeon John P. Pryor. A leading trauma surgeon in the City of Philadelphia, Pryor was killed when a mortar round hit near his living quarters. His funeral was held in Philadelphia and over 5000 people attended to pay their respect. On a trip to Mosul were the surgeon had been killed, Schoomaker recounted that soldiers had erected a permanent memorial where the surgeon had been killed to remember him.

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Keynote speaker Command Sergeant Major Althea G. Dixon spoke to the audience in greater detail about remembering. Remembering the soldiers who have served and are serving at this very moment. She reminded us to remember the families who support the soldiers who fight to maintain our freedom and she asked everyone, “When you see one who wears or has worn the uniform remember to thank them for their service and their sacrifice.”

In closing Command Sergeant Major Dixon said “I hope that on this holiday as we celebrate with friends and family that we pause to remember those who gave so much.”

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US Army Veteran Christopher Levi from New York commented on the event saying, “To me, Memorial Day is less about Afghanistan and Iraq and more about soldiers who have trail blazed before us. We are a country forged by the fire of our differences. The American Revolution was about our differences with England on taxes. The Civil War was about our differences at home over our economy.”

Christopher lost his legs while on patrol Sadr City, an eastern suburb of the city of Baghdad on March 17, 2008 (St. Patrick’s Day). He was deployed first to Afghanistan for six months and then spent six months in Iraq. He will be medically discharged from the Army at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Levi plans to take a   medical retirement then continue to serve the military in a civilian capacity.

When asked about society’s treatment of veterans, Christopher said, “America is doing a better job of honoring veterans without holding the war over our heads. Fighting for our country is just our job.”

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  1. Allan McWilliams says:

    Outstanding coverage of this wonderful ceremony CDN

  2. Laura Hovermale says:

    Thank you for this story. I spent 20 years at Clarke County Memorial Day services, and it is one thing I miss about living on the other coast now. I’m pleased to see so much more coverage of this wonderful ceremony, and to see that more folks participate and attend now. Great to remember that Memorial Day is more than BBQs and a 3 day weekend.