The sacrifices of the nation’s military veterans were remembered in ceremonies around Loudoun during the three-day holiday weekend.
The largest Memorial Day Observance took place on the steps of the county courthouse Monday morning. Retired Lt. Gen. John A. Dubia was the featured speaker on the 150th anniversary of the holiday’s establishment.
“From 1775 to 2016, Americans have fought in some 83 conflicts—some large, some small,” the Leesburg resident noted. “But the sacrifice of all those fallen heroes should not and cannot be forgotten.”
“Not only our fallen comrades do we recognize and honor, but we salute those who serve today in war zones across the globe or in dangerous situations here in our homeland,” Dubia said, spurring a round of applause when he remarked on the current deployment of the Leesburg-based Army National Guard company to Qatar.
During the ceremony, Mayor David S. Butler recalled during his youth seeing the poor treatment received by soldiers returning from Vietnam. “They were leered at. They were spit on. They were shunned,” he said. “And I remember thinking even as a young boy, this was not the way to honor the 58,228 service members who
were killed during that war. You didn’t have to like the war, but these people put themselves in harm’s way to help the country.”
The Leesburg ceremony also featured the laying of wreaths at the war memorials in the courthouse square, including for the first time the Revolutionary
War memorial that was dedicated in November.
A day earlier at the Evergreen Sportsplex south of Leesburg, teams took a break from a weekend soccer tournament to honor veterans. The ceremony included remarks from Pastor James Cha and his wife Faith, two first-generation Americans who credited the United States and its military for their freedom. Their parents in Korea suffered under Japanese occupation that ended with Japan’s defeat during World War II.
During a full day of family activities Saturday in Round Hill, participants at the Hometown Festival also paused to reflect on the service of the nation’s military. The featured speaker for the ceremony was Laszlo Palko, Lovettsville’s town manager, who enlisted in the U.S. Army following the Sept. 11 attacks. He served in Afghanistan where he managed rebuilding projects and then as a part of a funeral honor guard returning the bodies of those killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan to their families in the Northeast region.
“They were the best of the best among us. Their loss was a tremendous loss of human capital for our country and damage to our heart and soul,” Palko said.
Citizens have a responsibility to make up for that loss, he said.
“Every day we need to work harder and harder to be more hard working, self-sacrificing and provide service to our community and our nation as these heroes would have. We lost so much when they lost their lives. … They would have come back here and been the leaders of communities, of the communities of Round Hill, Lovettsville and Virginia.”
Not all programs to honor fallen veterans involved formal ceremonies and the laying of wreaths. At One Loudoun on Monday morning, more than 500 participants got up early to participate in the Ringing In Hope 10K/5K/Fun Run. Proceeds from the event benefited the Boulder Crest Retreat for wounded veterans and their families in Bluemont. South Riding’s Brian Szabos set the pace in the featured 10K race, completing the course in 37 minutes and 12 seconds—a half minute ahead of the next fastest runner.