Virginia has a long Memorial Day past and lots of war dead. Arlington National Cemetery is in Arlington, Virginia. The site of the Lee Mansion has been used as a national cemetery since the Civil War. Mrs. Lee left her plantation for obvious safety reasons, even though she was horribly crippled with arthrits and lived the life of a vagabond until the end of the war.
In the past decade, 233 Virginians have been killed in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. 25 of those were killed just in the past year. On Thursday, Governor McDonnell and members of his administration gathered on the steps of the State Capital to pay tribute.
“This is the story of America,” McDonnell said. “When I think of what defines our country, it is sacrifice and it is freedom…Throughout our history, the price of liberty has always been American blood.”
Marlene Blackburn, left, who lost her son, U.S. Army Cpl. William Kyle Middleton, in Afghanistan, is comforted by her uncle Bob Galaspie at the service. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (Steve Helber – AP)
The names of all 233 were read aloud by members of different branches of the armed services. A Coast Guard helicopter performed a ceremonial fly-by in the capital city’s sky, and a bagpiper with the Virginia Department of Corrections played “Amazing Grace.”