RADFORD – Under sunny skies and warm temperatures Monday, hundreds of people gathered in Bisset Park to honor veterans who lost their lives in war.
Radford’s annual Memorial Day ceremony, held at the park’s Duncan Gazebo, was emceed by American Legion Post 30 Commander Dana Jackson and included speeches by Mayor David Horton, Radford Army Ammunition Plant Commander Lt. Col. Russell Jones, Lt. Col. and Delegate Jason Ballard. Rev. Diana White of First Baptist Church (Third Avenue) gave the invocation, and Jackson recited the names of Radford’s war dead.
Horton honored the sacrifice by fallen soldiers “to ensure our freedoms and chart the course for our future.”
Ballard, who received a Bronze Star and several other military awards for his combat tour in Baghdad, urged the crowd not to think of Memorial Day as a holiday, but rather as “a day of somber reflection.”
“We honor those who did not make it home from battle,” said Ballard.
Jones, who is also a Bronze Star recipient, among other military awards, for his combat service in Iraq, looked out at the rows of crosses depicting the names of Radford residents who died in war, and said behind each name there is not only heroism, but a family who had to bear the pain of losing a loved one.
“Our nation must always remember what they did and what they gace,” said Jones. “Let us not remember them just on Memorial Day, but every day.”
The ceremony also included performances by the Radford High School Choir, who sang the National Anthem, and the RHS Band, who performed a medley of the songs of each branch of the U.S. military. The NRV Marine Corp League led a Posting of the Colors and the VFW Post 776 conducted a 21-gun salute. Piper Andrew Meeks performed “Amazing Grace,” and VFW Post 776 presented “Taps.”
The ceremony has been held for the past 20-plus years,and is presented by Radford VFW Post 776, American Legion Post 30, the NRV Marine Corps League, Bondurant Realty, the Dublin-Radford Ruritan Club, the Radford News Journal, WRAD AM1460, and WPSK 107.1.
Ceremony presenters thanked the following for support of the program: the City of Radford, Director of Radford Parks and Recreation Ken Goodyear, the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, Sign Systems, BAE Systems, Sound engineer Russell Brewster, Mullins Funeral Home, and Virginia Chapter 14 of WoodmenLife.