Dinwiddie honors America’s fallen during Memorial Day observances

By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Email: Click Here
Posted: June 11, 2018 | 1:20 p.m.

DINWIDDIE – Memorial Day Weekend was commemorated in various observances all over Dinwiddie County. The entire three-day weekend was part of the celebration of the unofficial beginning of summer! 

Reports of inclement weather had some skeptical about getting in their holiday activities, but each day of the three-day holiday experienced partial-sun before late-day rains. Many county residents had cookouts, picnics, or BBQ’s; hit the lakes, beaches, or swimming pools; but many also took the time to reflect and honor our nation’s fallen heroes, and our own loved ones that have passed.

The annual Dinwiddie County Memorial Day observance, honoring our country’s fallen heroes, was held on Memorial Day at the Historic Dinwiddie Courthouse. The event was organized and sponsored by Dinwiddie Masonic Lodge #136 A.F. & A.M. The observance included music by Fort Lee’s 392nd Army Band. Local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts also participated in the program. Keynote speaker for this year’s program was Sergeant Major Vittorio F. DeSouza, Commander and Sergeant Major, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee.

“Memorial Day represents a day of fun and relaxation for so many. Each year, we look forward to a three-day weekend filled with cookouts, pool parties, and all sorts of activities. It is so important that we pause on this day to remember the sacrifice made by so many men and women in the protection of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. They are worthy of our time,” said Tommy Peters, Dinwiddie Masonic Lodge #136.

Pamplin Park staff formed a Civil War Color Guard and presented the national and state flags during the playing of Taps and cannon salute (Pamplin Historical Park)

Another informative and moving program for Memorial Day weekend took place all three days of the holiday weekend in Northern Dinwiddie. In recognition of Memorial Day, Petersburg National Battlefield presented a variety of programs at Poplar Grove National Cemetery in North Dinwiddie. The programs began on Saturday, May 26, and continued through Memorial Day, Monday, May 28. Visitors to the cemetery participated in Ranger-led guided walks through the beautiful, serene, yet somber grounds. 

Visitors also heard presentations about the history of our nation’s military cemeteries. There were discussions about some of the many soldiers who found their final resting place at Poplar Grove. 

“For me, these observances are so important because knowing the stories of so many of the Soldiers buried at Poplar Grove, I think it comes down to the fact that we live as long as we are remembered. There are 6,181 stories at Poplar Grove, 4,000 that we don’t even have a record of because they are unknown Soldiers; but every single one of these men had people they loved, or people who loved them, or pets. They were people—people that gave everything. The stories of these brave men, some that were passed along during the Memorial Day events, are every bit as relevant as the stories of today’s Soldiers,” said Park Ranger Elizabeth Dinger.

Each day, “Stories in Stone” were presented. This was a walking Tour of Poplar Grove National Cemetery. Also, each day there was a World War I presentation, in observance of the 100th Anniversary of WWI. This tour focused on WWI soldiers buried at Poplar Grove. There was also a daily presentation of “America’s Sacred Ground,” a history of our National Cemeteries.

Dinwiddie’s Pamplin Park also offered a full schedule of daily programs on Memorial Day.

Bugler, Bill Stallings, Raleigh, North Carolina, performs Taps for park attendees during Memorial Day ceremony (Pamplin Historical Park)

“I think the cookouts, picnics, and other activities on Memorial Day are great. I have always also believed that people should take this one day out of the year, in their busy lives, to honor our fallen patriots. They sacrificed a lifetime, a lifetime with family and friends that goes beyond this one day,” said Colin Romanick, Director, Marketing & Development, Pamplin Historical Park & The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier.

During a special Memorial Day program, visitors learned about a number of specific soldiers and their personal experiences during the Civil War. These “It is with Sorrow that I Write” soldiers’ stories were presented using source material taken from the Soldiers’ own letters. Their stories illustrated the causes and consequences of the Civil War. The program included an artillery firing, followed by the presentation of the colors, and ending with the always-stirring and haunting playing of Taps.

An informative Breakthrough Battlefield Tour gave visitors a chance to learn about the events of April 2, 1865, which was followed by bugle calls and a Civil War camp life demonstration. The viewing of “War So Terrible,” which followed two Civil War soldiers, Benjamin Franklin Meyers of the Union, and Andrew Jackson Stewart of the Confederacy, was shown in the Battlefield Center.

“Every day is Memorial Day. Throughout the year our men and women in uniform protect our country and the freedoms that we hold dear. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice from Lexington Green to the sands of Iraq and Afghanistan. This one day allows all Americans to honor our fallen heroes and remember the families left behind. Throughout our history, Americans have risen to fight against imperialism, fascism, communism and other threats to our great republic. 

The freedoms that we enjoy each day have been won by military members who have sometimes sacrificed themselves to preserve our way of life. Memorial Day belongs to them and is a somber reminder for all Americans to remember their courage,” said Romanick.

Copyright 2018 by Womack Publishing
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