Letter: Dennis B. Boykin IV,  Leesburg

Editor: It seems that lately everything is political, but at the Veterans of Foreign Wars we strive to avoid that as best we can. Our mission is to support veterans, their families, and (most importantly) the families of the fallen, and for those of you who contribute to our efforts, we thank you.

Since the dissolution of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Political Action Committee in 2010 (less than 20 years after its founding), the VFW has maintained a strictly non-partisan position and will not endorse political candidates. The VFW’s position is clear:  We have VFW members in politics on both sides of the aisle, and we’re proud of their service to the community, but we can’t endorse them directly. This becomes a concern when partisan politicians turn public ceremonies into campaign events.

At this week’s Memorial Day ceremony in Leesburg, I was disappointed to see overt political statements from both sides of the aisle, which stained the intent of this solemn ceremony. I believe the politicization of this ceremony was grossly disrespectful to those who gave their lives for our nation. I expect that this event should focus on those who have given “the last full measure of devotion” and not be an extension of someone’s political campaign.  

The first target of my concern is the Loudoun County Republican Committee, which put up a banner for political purposes at the ceremony. In my opinion, this was not appropriate.  Although it may have been a subtle gesture, and I certainly have put my life on the life for their right to free speech, I believe that the LCRC owes the community an apology for trying to make Memorial Day political.  

Unfortunately, they weren’t the only ones. Despite the VFW’s request in advance of the ceremony not to do so, Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk turned her introduction of Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton into a political commercial that lasted more than several minutes and left many members of the audience, including me, feeling very uncomfortable. While I appreciate the congresswoman’s faithful service to our nation—and her speech was not political—the VFW had already expressed concern about her politicization of this ceremony to Mrs. Burk in writing, and Mrs. Burk’s response was less than forthcoming.

And, frankly, insulting.  

Mrs. Burk ignored these concerns and accosted us with her political agenda, and for that I believe Mrs. Burk owes the community an apology. In fact, so does the LCRC.  They both should know better. I look forward to hearing Mrs. Burk’s apology from the dais at the next meeting of the Town Council.  I expect the LCRC will want to do the same in a public format.

Dennis B. Boykin IV, Leesburg

[The author is a combat veteran, a prior keynote speaker at the Leesburg’s  Memorial Day event, and serves as an officer in VFW Post 1177 of Loudoun County.]

14 thoughts on “Letter: Dennis B. Boykin IV,  Leesburg

  • 2022-05-31 at 10:58 am
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    I agree with the underlying sentiment here… veterans are not political footballs. Veterans did what they did for everyone, regardless of political leanings, because they felt they were doing the right thing.

  • 2022-05-31 at 10:58 am
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    It was a photo op for Wexton (D), nothing more, nothing less. Just look at how she wedged herself into the frame on the picture LN is using for their story on the event.

  • 2022-05-31 at 11:01 am
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    I thought Mayor Burk’s introduction of Rep. Wexton was fine. It only lasted but a minute or so. Actually, I’m glad Mayor Burk mentioned the traffic-safety accomplishments of Rep. Wexton. That’s so important in a county that experiences roadway carnage on a regular basis. As Dennis Boykin noted, Rep. Wexton’s address was apolitical. So let’s not make much ado about nothing. Welcome to the Summer Season Loudoun!

    • 2022-05-31 at 6:48 pm
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      Would you mind connecting the dots between a solemn ceremony honoring fallen Veterans with so-called “traffic safety” accomplishments of an absentee politician?

    • 2022-06-01 at 8:49 pm
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      Remember when you support the removal of street names and statues because of how they made people feel. I guess when those feeling don’t match your party’s message their feelings don’t matter.

    • 2022-06-09 at 5:20 pm
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      I was at the ceremony and agree with you. I could not find anything wrong with what representative Wexton or Mayor Burk said.

  • 2022-05-31 at 3:32 pm
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    Yes all parties mentioned owe the public and the VFW an apology. Especially the public for the grandstanding of these individuals on a solem event to honor Veterans. What sticks with me after a career in the Marine Corps is you give the best qualified the mission. As a civilian you vote for who will be the best for America regardless of party.

    • 2022-06-09 at 5:23 pm
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      You and I must have been at different events–there was NOTHING political about having our current Representative in Congress, Jennifer Wexton , at this event . There was nothing that she or Mayor Burk said that was political.

  • 2022-06-01 at 12:24 pm
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    I completely agree Dennis. This is the most solemn American holiday and should honor the fallen and their loved ones who paid the ultimate price. It is despicable for anyone to self-promote or politicize anything about the service our our Nations greatest men and women.

    • 2022-06-09 at 5:25 pm
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      “If anyone self promoted or politicized anything” at the event you would be right–but never happened!

  • 2022-06-01 at 3:58 pm
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    We offered a day of respite at our community picnic for Hung Cao and Jennifer Wexton and the so-called LCRC powers that be decided to turn our nonprofit’s picnic into a political event until Geary intervened. The LCRC chair ain’t much good but he is getting plenty of practice on the apology tour, see Roland Martin podcast.

  • 2022-06-03 at 7:01 pm
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    On Memorial Day 2022, members of the Leesburg District of the Loudoun County Republican
    Committee made a conscientious demonstration of our support for those who have been lost in the service of the United States over the last 250 years. We gathered in silence by the south fence of the Loudoun County Courthouse at 0945 AM with our banner displayed on the courthouse fence. Before the ceremony began at 10 AM, we removed our banner and dispersed individually into the crowd to participate in the ceremony. These actions were taken specifically to avoid injecting partisan politics into the ceremony and to respect the solemnity of the occasion. We feel no need to apologize for our actions.
    Pat Daly
    Leesburg

    • 2022-06-08 at 1:05 pm
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      Too bad Pat Daly is not LCRC chair! Sounds like reasonable explanation.

  • 2022-06-09 at 5:35 pm
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    I am surprised by the comments made by Mr Boykin. I was at this event and saw nothing wrong with having our current Repesentative in Congress, Jennifer Wexton at this event. I did not hear anything in what Mayor Burk said in her introduction or in Conresswoman Wexton’s remarks that was political. I also noted that Mayor Burk acknowldeged the presence of both Dems and Rs in the audience, including former Republican Representative Joe May and former VA Attorney General (D) Mark Herring. I did not see the LRC banner but reading the explanation, noted in other comments here I thinkthe way it was done it was appropriate too- I did note the Marines were there (Semper Fi)

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