A Salute to Those Lost in Service to
Our Nation and Those Who Returned
May is designated as Military Appreciation Month. Next week many of us will show our appreciation at multiple services that will be held next Monday at 11am. Most of those services will be centered around a laying on of wreaths in respect for those who died while in conflicts around the world. I will be speaking at the service in South Hill. For Jessie and me, Memorial Day will be only one day of remembrance of those who have given all. The following week, we will go to Bedford to be with those who gather at the D-Day Memorial. June 6th will mark the 75th anniversary of our troops landing on the beaches of Normandy.
Currently, World War II veterans are dying at the rate of over 2,000 every day. The World War I and World War II Commemoration Commission on which I serve as vice-chairman is midway through our two-year recognition of the 100th and 75th anniversaries respectively. There is little expectation that enough survivors of those events 75 years ago will be able to attend future reunions. Therefore, we are transporting those survivors to Bedford and having several special events for them.
The D-Day event is the one that is most important to me for several reasons. First, I am a native of Bedford County, which as many know, lost more troops on D-Day than any other community. Second, in 1964, the book The Longest Day was published on the 20th anniversary. This was the first book that I had ever read that had people that I knew personally. Roy Stevens lived down the road; his kids were the age of my sisters. He recounted this in the book. He and his twin brother, Ray, were on the same landing craft. Roy reached to shake Ray’s hand. Ray refused saying “we’ll shake on the beach”. Ray never made it to the beach; he died in the water. The story was sad enough with Ray’s death, but as long as I had known Roy, he was missing one hand. I had always assumed he had lost it in the war. I didn’t know until a couple of years before his death that he had actually lost it in a manufacturing accident after the war.
I hope that you will show your gratitude at one of next Monday’s services. In addition, hopefully some will be able to join us at the D-Day Monument on June 6th. It is well designed and worth the time to visit.
We love to hear from you! You can reach us at Sen.Ruff@verizon.net, 434-374-5129 or P. O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.
To read the entire column pick up the May 22, 2019 edition of the Brunswick Times-Gazette.