Veterans, families honored in Front Royal

Retired U.S Air Force Brig. Gen. David C. Wesley addresses the crowd during a Veterans Day program outside Warren County Courthouse in Front Royal on Wednesday. Wesley is the president of Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – At the Veterans Day program in Front Royal, Giles B. Cook American Legion Post 53 members led a ceremony of thanks and laid wreaths at the monuments around the Warren County Courthouse.

Mayor Timothy Darr gave a thankful introduction to the ceremony after Randolph-Macon Academy cadets presented the colors, Post 53 members led prayers and E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School students sang “For The Good of the Many.” During Darr’s introduction, he mentioned areas of concern for veterans regarding issues within Veterans Affairs medical centers, issues veterans face finding jobs and threats to their safety.

Larry Funk, Post 53 commander, introduced the mantra of veterans as “ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things” while speaking to those assembled.

“Today is important because we choose to honor our veterans, from the greatest generation to the latest generations, but we must honor them with deeds and not just words,” he said.

Randolph-Macon Academy President Brig. Gen. David Wesley served as the program’s special guest speaker, preceded by Funk’s description of his more than 26 years in service with the U.S. Air Force until his retirement in June 2014.

Nelson Longerbeam, of Front Royal, bows his head during a prayer at the Veterans Day program outside the Warren County Courthouse in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Wesley began by saying, “When you hear your last 26 years read in sequence like that, it seems like a long time and a whole lot of work. But the truth is – and this is what I would hope to leave with our youngest members of the audience this morning – when you come to the end of a career like that, it seems to have gone by very fast, almost in the flash of an eye.”

Having served the Air Force in various educational and legal capacities, he said he represented those service members who didn’t meet direct combat and were instead “praying, working and waiting for the day that call might come.”

“They also served and they are grateful for your recognition on a day like today,” he said. “All of us served our country as an entire nation; we didn’t serve for any individual cause or community or group of people. We served because we believe in the greatness of the American experiment – we served because we genuinely want to be part of something larger than ourselves.”

Wesley called on those assembled at the courthouse to instill an understanding of responsibility and a greater sense of patriotic pride in younger generations as “lessons of service.”

“As you go from this place today, I ask you to teach our young people the truth that you and I know so well: that America, with all of her faults, is the greatest force for good in our world today and that it is mankind’s best hope for a peaceful and productive future,” he said.

Riziki Ilenre, 17, a member of the Randolph-Macon Academy honor guard, stands at attention with her squad during the Veterans Day program in Front Royal on Wednesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

Both he and Funk also gave special recognition to families of service members and recognized their struggles. Funk announced a yellow rose awarded to Helen Seekford as a Gold Star Mother of a deceased serviceman.

“… It is often an extraordinary family that supports the ordinary veteran, and it is the outstanding veterans that have given us a most extraordinary country,” Funk said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com


Randolph-Macon Academy color guard cadets Cyrus Lesko, 16, left, and Jake Branham, 17, right, stand at attention during the Veterans Day service in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

A flag waves during a prayer at the Veterans Day program in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Skyler Striker, 8, a member of the E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School choir, holds an American flag during the Veterans Day ceremony. Rich Cooley/Daily