Hundreds honor the fallen at Virginia War Memorial

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Hundreds of people came to the Virginia War Memorial for the annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday.

This year, organizers gave special recognition was given to people who died while fighting the Global War on Terror. There were 37 Virginians added to the Wall of Honor, but that's just a fraction of the thousands of men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.

"We can never express the appropriate words the sacrifice and the pain that you've been through for our great nation., but for that we salute you," Governor Bob McDonnell said at the ceremony.

For one man in the audience, coming to the memorial is not easy.

"For years I avoided it," Harvey Johnson Jr. said.  "But then I had to come to start a healing process, so I'm here to try to make myself whole again."

Johnson was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after he did two tours in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. Though the war ended more than forty years ago, this is just Johnson's fourth Memorial Day Ceremony ever.

"It just feels like you are on sacred ground," he said.

Also for the first time, the traditional memorial ceremony was combined with the Wall of Honor Ceremony. The names on the wall represent the Virginia men and woman who have died in the Global War on Terror.

Lula Lamb and Michelle Bryant both have sons who were killed in action.  It's a bittersweet bond.

"It's one of those things that you really don't want to be friends with her because she has a loved one that has fallen," says Lamb.

"They are individuals," says Bryant.  "They believed in what they were doing."

By believing in giving the ultimate sacrifice, those who are alive today realize something new.

"I look at the pictures at the ones that have gone on," says Harvey.  "It just does something to you inside and then you realize how blessed I really am."

Another change is in the works for the future. Plans are in progress to move the Wall of Honor  to the Patrick Henry Building on East Broad Street.

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