Veterans recognized across the commonwealth

The National D-Day Memorial hosts a Veterans Day observation Nov. 12, 2018, in Bedford, Virginia, to honor all those who served in the U.S. Armed Force. Brig. Gen. Lapthe Flora, Virginia National Guard Assistant Adjutant General – Army, was the keynote speaker, and Soldiers assigned to the Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion joined in the recognition of veterans in attendance.  (U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)

RICHMOND, Va. — Virignia National Guard personnel took part in Veterans Day observations across the commonwealth Nov. 10-12, 2018, to honor all Americans who served and are currently serving in the armed forces as well as commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. Senior leaders took part in ceremonies with elected officials, and Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force took part in community events where they recognized veterans, sang the national anthem and shared their experiences with school students. Commonwealth ChalleNGe cadets paid tribute to veterans by marching in a parade in Virignia Beach, and the 29th Infantry Division Band performed at events in Roanoke and Bassett.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam thanked veterans and currently serving active duty and reserve component personnel during the Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 11 in Richmond. He also recognized the important role of family members and their support to uniformed personnel.

VNG Soldiers assigned to the 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team provided a WWI color guard and presented the colors at the ceremony, and Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, represented the VNG along with Brig. Gen. Marshall L. Kjelvik, VNG Air Component Commander. Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins provided opening remarks and introduced guest speakers Northam and Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates M. Kirkland Cox, who also serves as the Chairman of the Virginia WWI and WWII Commemoration Commission.

“We owe a special debt of gratitude to each and every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman for everything they have done to give us the freedoms we enjoy today, whether they are currently serving or wore the cloth of our country in years past,” Williams wrote in his Veterans Day message. “And not only should we say ‘thank you’ to them, but also we must recognize the service and sacrifice of their families. Our military forces couldn’t accomplish their mission with them. We also owe a special thanks to our employers whose support is so critical to the National Guard’s success.”

Brig. Gen. Lapthe C. Flora, Assistant Adjutant General – Army, greeted veterans before Virginia’s Veterans Parade Nov. 10 in Roanoke, helped dedicated a memorial wall to Vietnam veterans Nov. 11 in Bassett, and was the keynote speaker at the Veterans Day observation Nov. 12 at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford.

“This nation owes an immense debt, one infinitely larger than can ever be repaid, to veterans, whose service to the nation spans every decade, every year, and every day of our country’s existence,” Flora said. “Through untold courage and sacrifice, America’s veterans have secured the liberty which the founding fathers sought to establish here in the new world.”

Flora is the first Vietnamese boat person to be promoted to general officer in the U.S. Army, and he paid special tribute to Vietnam veterans in his remarks both in Bassett and Bedford.

“Your devotion to duty and dedication to serve your fellow men despite the insurmountable odds you faced both in the battlefields and home front, have inspired me and thousands of my fellow Vietnamese-Americans to follow your footsteps since our arrival in this great country,” Flora said. “Your selfless service to defend my motherland the Republic of Vietnam, to preserve the freedom and our way of life for nearly 20 years, is honorable and appreciated. We Vietnamese-Americans are forever indebted to you and your family.”