New and established events to highlight weekend
Memorial Day weekend is the summer kick-off typically observed with cookouts, pool parties and patriotic salutes to the men and women who have served and died for this country.
This year, residents will have a wide range of options for commemorative services across the valley between established events and new ones.
Front Royal Dogs of War
For the second year in a row, Front Royal will be the site of a new Memorial Day tradition celebrating an often overlooked segment of war veterans: dogs of war.
The event will be held at 11:30 a.m. Monday at the Historic Front Royal Gazebo.
Malcolm Barr Sr., a Front Royal resident and former president of the Front Royal Humane Society, said this event started with a Friday night wine bar on Main Street three years ago.
“Somebody held up a glass and said, ‘let’s give a toast to the dogs of war,” Barr said.
This year’s service will feature a keynote speech from retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Henry “Mack” Hobgood as well as a commemorative wreath laying for fallen soldiers by Mayor Timothy Darr.
“The most important thing, to me, is the focus we place on the war dogs,” Barr noted. “As far as I know, we’re the only the one that specifically does a salute to the dogs of war.”
Front Royal’s Memorial Day services will also include a commemorative ceremony by the United Daughters of the Confederacy Warren Rifles Chapter in Front Royal. The ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Prospect Hill Cemetery’s Soldiers Circle.
The keynote speaker is Teresa Roane, the bookkeeper for the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond.
Strasburg Legion Service
Residents in the Strasburg area can look forward to the long-held tradition of the Strasburg American Legion Post 77 commemorative service.
This year’s service will take place at the Strasburg Presbyterian Church Cemetery at 10:30 a.m. Monday.
Post Commander John Holland said, “[Strasburg Mayor] Tim Taylor is going to be our guest speaker” and that the service “is going to be the same as it always is.”
The American Legion Color Guard will be at the service and “in formation,” Holland noted.
Holland will give his opening remarks, which will be followed by Taylor’s speech and a post-ceremony lunch for attendees provided by the Legion Auxiliary.
“As the commander, I want invite the community out to honor veterans of past and current wars,” Holland said.
Winchester National Cemetery
For the first time in decades, the Winchester National Cemetery will host a commemorative service in honor of Memorial Day.
Jean Woolsey, the cemetery’s program coordinator, said she and Willie Davis, a Winchester native and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, decided to “make sure there was a program” at the cemetery.
The service, which will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, will include a speech from Robert G. Morris, program analyst from the NCI, the Millbrook High School marching band and the honor and color guards of Randolph-Macon Academy.
“Most national cemeteries have service, and it’s only right for these men to be given the same honor on the [Winchester] National Cemetery Grounds,” Woolsey said. “These men laying there gave their last full measure of devotion.”
Stephens City Veterans’ Memorial Dedication
The three-day Newtown Heritage Festival in Stephens City will feature a dedication at the new Veteran’s Memorial at the Old School in Stephens City at 11 a.m. Saturday.
The memorial features bricks with names of service veterans both past and present. The bricks can be purchased for $50.
Town Manager Mike Kehoe said the memorial features six area men who died in World War II and that the dedication “is in memory of our heritage in the military.”
At the dedication will be many service veterans from World War II on up through recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Retired Gen. Ted Shuey, of the National Guard, will give a keynote address.
Edinburg Bell Ringing
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Massanutten Post in Edinburg will host a commemorative bell ringing service in honor of veterans past and present.
The ceremony will be held at the Edinburg post at 11 a.m. Monday and was organized by the VFW as well as the Woodstock American Legion Post 199 and the Disabled American Veterans.
Linda Barb, club manager of the Edinburg post, said they will be ringing a bell for “all of the veterans in the valley that have passed away within the past year” from every branch of service.
The service is open to the public and, Barb noted, lunch will be served following the bell ringing. Lunch will include chicken, macaroni salad, coleslaw and baked beans.
Fort Valley Ceremony
Among the established Memorial Day traditions is the Fort Valley Fort Valley Ruritans Club’s annual service, which is taking place at 11 a.m. Monday at Detrick Cemetery.
Tom Drinkwater, co-chairman of the club’s citizenship and patriotism and event chair, noted that they are “honoring World War II veterans this year.”
Two World War II veterans who fought in the Battle of the Bulge will be attending the ceremony — David McClanahan, of Fort Valley, who was an infantryman in the war, and Vito Monteleone, a combat medic and Warrenton native.
Army Col. Darrell Bennis, of Fort Belvoir, will deliver the keynote address. There will also be a social afterward at the Fort Valley Fire hall.
Drinkwater said, “This is the most important day of the year to remember our fallen military.”
Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org