Hundreds recognize Memorial Day at Virginia War Memorial in Richmond

Published: May. 30, 2022 at 4:45 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Several ceremonies in central Virginia recognized the brave servicemen and women who paid the ultimate price for our country.

While many enjoyed the extra day off, it’s important to remember the significance and gravity of the holiday. On Monday morning, the Virginia War Memorial held its 66th annual Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony.

Over the last two years, public participation in this ceremony was limited due to the pandemic. However, on this Memorial Day, hundreds came out, braving the heat and humidity to honor the lives lost in service to this country.

Veterans, active-duty military, Gold Star families and civilians all came together to pay tribute to the servicemen and women who paid the ultimate price.

Thaylene Pinnick is one of the many Gold Star family members that made their way to the ceremony in Richmond.

“I want all our veterans to know, if there was one word someone could say, one more hug, one more thing, just know don’t give up on that battle, don’t give up,” Pinnick said through tears. “You are incredible. We want you. We love you. We care about you.”

Pinnick is honoring her brother, Warren Del Pinnick, who lost his life on a very different battlefield.

“Butch,” as he was known, served in Iraq and lost his battle with PTSD in 2019.

“He was an incredible person. He loved helping people. He was a ‘random acts of kindness’ guy,” she said. “There are people that still don’t know what he’s done for them.”

Lt. Governor Winsome Earle-Sears gave the keynote address as a veteran herself who served in the Marines.

“The men and women that we celebrate, they died in service to our country. Let me be clear, this is not a three-day weekend; it is Memorial Day. It is an honorable day,” she said.

Phil Hebner served in the Marine Corps in the first gulf war in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

“Today is just all about the men and women who went before us and really sacrificed the freedom that everybody deserves,” he said.

He says most veterans want folks to have their cookouts, vacations, and celebrations this holiday, but take a moment to be grateful.

“Have fun, go out and do great things, and be appreciative of the freedom you have to be able to go do those things, and the reason you have it is because of the men and women who fought for it,” Hebner said.

Following the ceremony, memorial wreaths were placed at the shrine of memory. To close out the emotional gathering, a final prayer was shared.

“May all Gold Star family members, battle buddies, extended family members, and friends that are gathered be comforted in knowing the lives, the sacrifice, and military service of their loved ones are not forgotten,” Chaplain Major Brett Johnson said.

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