Wednesday, Jul 23rd

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You are here: Home Opinion Paula I. Bryant Memorial Day tributes

Memorial Day tributes

We learned earlier this week former South Boston resident and brother of the late Air Force Lt. Col.  William Watkins, Barksdale Watkins, will be leading the Pledge of Allegiance at the annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond. 

Governor Bob McDonnell will give the keynote address, and Barksdale is scheduled to participate in honor of his brother who was killed in Iraq.

The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the Virginia War Memorial located at 621 S. Belvidere St. in Richmond.

Co-hosted by the American Legion 11th District, this ceremony honors all veterans and reminds citizens that we must remain vigilant to protect our freedoms. 

New this year will be special recognition by Governor McDonnell of those names of the fallen during the War of Terror being added to the Wall of Honor that is located in the Patrick Henry Building. 

Wreath presentations, rifle salute and special music will be presented. 

The event, to be held rain or shine, is free and open to the public with free parking in the adjacent office building to the Memorial. 

Here a little closer to home, county residents also will have an opportunity to attend two Memorial Day Services, one on Sunday and another on Monday, at our own Halifax County War Memorial.

The public is invited to attend the Sunday service honoring past and present American veterans who paid the ultimate price for all to live free in our country.

The 3 p.m. service features the Rev. Jack Stewart, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Virgilina, as guest speaker.

Other local ministers will offer prayers for veterans’ families, our nation, our national and local leaders and service members all over the world.

The Halifax County Veterans Association is sponsoring Sunday’s event.

Then on Monday a Memorial Day service will be held at 11 a.m. featuring keynote speaker the Rev. Robert Woodfin.

The Rev. Woodfin served as a Navy Chaplain and retired from the Naval Reserves as a commander in 1995. He is currently semi-retired and presently serves as a the pastor of Glenwood-Olive Branch United Methodist Charge after having served United Methodist churches in Virginia for 25 years.

During the program Monday morning, Doug Bowen from the Church of Christ will give the invocation, and Allen Anderson will perform the National Anthem. 

After the posting of the colors, Bill Crews, Cmdr., S.V.C., Camp 581, will introduce the organizations and special guests present. 

Grace Elliott of the Virginia Daughters of the Confederacy, Chapter 1321, will read a patriotic poem. Veterans groups will be recognized and present their memorial floral tributes. 

The program will conclude with a rifle salute and the playing of Taps by the American Legion Post 8 Honor Guard. 

Everyone is encouraged to attend and honor all those who have made the supreme sacrifice to protect the nation, liberty for all Americans and the American way of life.

John M. Jordan Camp #581 Sons of Confederate Veterans is sponsoring the Monday service that is open to the public.

The Halifax County War Memorial is located across from the Halifax County Court House on North Main Street in Halifax.


Making an impression

This spring, D-Day participant and World War II veteran W. R. Snead was awarded the French Legion of Honor Chevalier award at the French Embassy in Washington, D. C.

A French order established by Napolean Bonaparte in 1802, the National Order of the Legion of Honour is the highest decoration in France and is divided into five various degrees including Chevalier (Knight).

Snead was named a Chevalier for his efforts in helping liberate both France and Europe from the Nazis in World War II.

An amphibious engineer, Mr. Snead’s brigade was attached to the famed 29th Infantry Division and went ashore around 2:30 p.m. the day of the invasion.

A retired contractor who sports a chest full of medals for his service overseas, Mr. Snead went to Normandy in 1999 for the 55th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and has returned twice since then. 

In a conversation one day last week, Mr. Snead’s son, South Boston Town Councilman Bill Snead, told us all about the day his dad was honored in Washington.

What particularly sticks out in his mind is the attention our 5th District Congressman Robert Hurt paid to his father and family members who attended the special ceremony.

“People in the French Embassy told us, to their knowledge, Congressman Hurt was the first congressman in their memory who actually took the time to come to the embassy and attend the ceremony. He went way beyond anything we had ever imagined,” Bill said.

After the ceremony was over, Robert spent about 30 minutes talking with his dad personally before meeting other members of the family including Bill and his siblings, Carolyn and Jimmy.

“He was really interested in what dad was into, and then he gave us a tour of the Capitol. He’s a history buff, you know,” Bill added. “He was genuine. He even wanted to get a picture of my dad saluting Eisenhower.”

The busy congressman taking time out of his hectic Washington, D.C. schedule for ordinary citizens who aren’t rich campaign donors sure meant a lot to this South Boston family.

Just ask Bill.