Hundreds honor veterans at Virginia War Memorial

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The nation is paying tribute to veterans. A ceremony was held at the Virginia War Memorial.

The event is always popular, but last year some people stayed away because it was raining. Today, the sun was shining and hundreds turned out for the ceremony.

The memorial houses the names of more than 11,000 Virginians who died fighting for our country.

A chance this Veterans Day for people to honor those who serve.  Joe Marquez was one of the first people to show up. He's a self-described military man.

"I spent all my military life at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Airborne, jumping out of planes, I spent 22 years there. I spent two years in Vietnam, three years in Germany," he said.

Marquez says he comes here every year to remember how lucky he is.

"A lot of us come back but some people didn't get to come back, and I came here to honor those people," he said.

It was the first time the new amphitheater at the Virginia War Memorial was used for this ceremony.

Hundreds were there, including Richmond police chief Bryan Norwood accompanying a number of officers on active duty in either the Army, Marine Corps, or Navy.

Veteran Joe Collier says it's nice to see this kind of turnout of both those serving, and those just showing support.

Collier says being in the military isn't always easy, but days and events like this remind him why he chose that path for his life.

"'I've been on every major battlefield that the military has had since 1967, and only a few years ago went to Afghanistan," he said. "It was an honor to serve. It's not always a pleasure, but it is always an honor, that's how I feel about it."

There are also a number of other events going on around town Thursday. Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen will be preparing meals at the Richmond Fisher House later this morning in honor of Veterans Day. The event is part of the first lady's "Serve a Service Member's Family" campaign.

The effort asks Virginians to reach out to troops and veterans every day, not just on holidays.

Several other ceremonies are planned across our area, including a Richmond Veterans Day tradition at the World War I Memorial Carillon, that's in Richmond's Byrd Park. It's happening at 4pm today.

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