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‘We have to honor our veterans’: Hundreds gather for Veterans Day Ceremony as new exhibit is unveiled

Virginia War Memorial
Virginia War Memorial(NBC12)
Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 1:02 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2021 at 4:26 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Despite a visible disruption, dozens of veterans and their families gathered on Thursday at the Virginia War Memorial to show their support for veterans.

Just as the 65th annual Veterans Day Ceremony got underway, Capitol Police noticed a man driving over a sidewalk and around barricades on 2nd Street. The driver then stopped at the base of the amphitheater, which was blocked off due to the ceremony, with a ‘F*** Biden’ sign in the bed of his truck. Police say the sign was ‘highly visible’ to the crowd at the ceremony.

Police said a man attending the ceremony later jumped in the truck trying to cover the sign with his suit jacket. The driver of the vehicle and the man from the crowd were detained.

Meanwhile, the ceremony was accompanied by unveiling a brand-new exhibit to honor some of Virginia’s fallen heroes.

Over the years, the Virginia War Memorial has expanded its footprint to ensure the lives of our state’s servicemen and women are not forgotten. On Thursday, some of the stories of these heroes were put on display.

“It still hurts,” said Dennis Young.

The heartache is still there for Young.

Nov. 17 will mark 56 years since her brother, Gordon Preston Young, was killed in action during the Vietnam War. He was only 21 years old.

“He was very proud to serve his country,” Young said. “He always wanted to go into service; even as a young boy, he had hobbies such as building model airplanes and ships and so forth.”

Young is one of 32 Virginia men and women who now have their stories on display in a new exhibit called “Who They Were: Lives Worth Remembering” at the Virginia War Memorial.

“I was overwhelmed when I went and saw this exhibit; I was moved to tears really, literally moved to tears,” Young said. “It’s a very moving experience, but it also gives me a great sense of pride.”

The exhibit officially opened to the public following the annual Veterans Day Ceremony.

“Our mission at the Virginia War Memorial is to honor and remember our fellow Virginians who gave the ultimate sacrifice defending our Nation and to pass on their stories of service and sacrifice,” said Dr. Clay Mountcastle, Virginia War Memorial Director. “This new exhibit uses personal photos and items, letters and artifacts from our collection to better tell the stories about a few of them, so they are more than simply names on the walls in our Shrines of Memory.”

“In Virginia, we believe strongly that if you take care of us, we will take care of you,” said Virginia’s Acting Secretary of Veterans & Defense Affairs, Kathleen Jabs. “If you fight for us, we will fight for you.”

The Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony

🇺🇸 We would like to say THANK YOU on this Veterans Day to all who served. The Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony begins at 11 a.m. 🇺🇸

Posted by Virginia War Memorial on Thursday, November 11, 2021

It is estimated every one in 12 citizens in Virginia is a veteran. Dozens of them were in attendance Thursday to support one another and those we’ve lost.

“We can’t take for granted the freedoms that we have,” Young said. “We have to honor our veterans, and we have to memorialize those who went before and fought for our country.”

More will stand up for our country soon. The Virginia National Guard is set to deploy to Southwest Asia, the Horn of Africa and Kosovo to provide ongoing support.

“By this coming January, more than 2,000 National Guard personnel will be mobilized onto federal active duty,” said Adjutant General of Virginia MG Tim Williams. “That’s the most since the Iraq surge in 2007.”

As these men and women embark on that mission, the support back home will not waiver.

The fighting spirit behind the 12,000 names inscribed on the glass and stonewalls at the memorial will push forward other veterans.

“It makes me feel proud as a Virginian to bring people here to this memorial,” Young said.

The new exhibit will be open from Nov. 11 through 2022.

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