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‘My heart still feels a little heavy’: Virginia War Memorial honors fallen heroes during Memorial Day ceremony

Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 6:41 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Thousands of Virginians were honored and remembered for their ultimate sacrifice during the Virginia War Memorial’s annual Memorial Day ceremony.

Nearly 800 people gathered outside the amphitheater to pay their respects to the men and women who sacrificed their lives defending America, from the Revolutionary War to the present.

“They wanted to protect a country, which has given them and all of us so much,” said Kathleen Jabs, Virginia Acting Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs.

The event is the first in-person gathering held at the Virginia War Memorial since February 2020.

This past year, four new names were added to the Shrine of Memory, including Marine Staff Sergeant Donald C. May Jr.

His mother, Brenda May, was at the Memorial Day ceremony holding a pillow with a picture of her son close to her heart.

“My heart still feels a little heavy,” she said.

Donald C. May Jr. followed in his parents’ footsteps, serving the country for more than a decade until he was killed in action during the Iraq war on March 25, 2003.

“They’re saying now sniper shot the driver and that’s why the tank lost control,” Brenda May said. “The tank went off the bridge and landed upside down in the Euphrates River.”

Donald C. May Jr.’s name is joining the nearly 12,000 names etched on the Virginia War Memorial for Virginians who lost their lives in battle.

Brenda May hopes no one will ever forget those names, especially her son.

“I miss him. I’d rather have him here,” she said. “Every day that somebody comes and reads my son’s name and those of many others, that’s honor and remembrance.”

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