County residents, employees and officials recently gathered at the Prince William County War Memorial in Freedom Park to in honor of Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, which both fall in May.
Armed Forces Day, celebrated on the third Saturday in May, serves as a tribute to those in the military. Memorial Day, observed each year on the last Monday in May, is set aside to remember those who fell in service to the country.
Bugler Donna Flory started the ceremony with a call to arms followed by Jennifer Decker, who sang the national anthem.
Prince William Chairman Corey Stewart spoke at the ceremony and called for a moment of silence to recognize the late John D. Jenkins, Prince William County's longest-serving supervisor and an ardent supporter of the armed forces. "It's the first time we're holding the ceremony without Supervisor Jenkins and he's certainly missed by this county."
Stewart went on to say that the American way of life is protected by those serving in the military. "Right now, there are over two million men and women in uniform serving and defending our country in every time zone, in the air, on land and on the seas. The precious liberties we all enjoy are possible because, every day and without exception, our Armed Forces relentlessly and tirelessly carry out the critical mission of protecting our country, our freedoms and our way of life."
Stewart said people should also take the time to remember family members of those who serve. "Let's also give thanks to the remarkable military families that serve alongside them. So today, and every day, let's take the time to show our support for our service members and their families who keep this nation strong and safe.
In addition to thanking those who currently serve, Stewart called attention to the black marble monument that bears the names of Prince William County residents who fell in war. "In addition to thanking our active duty service members, we are here today to remember and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, those veterans who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice."
Stewart wrapped up his remarks with a presidential quote. "To quote President John F. Kennedy, 'Our Servicemen and women are serving throughout the world as guardians of peace–many of them away from their homes, their friends and their families. They are visible evidence of our determination to meet any threat to the peace with measured strength and high resolve. They are also evidence of a harsh but inescapable truth–that the survival of freedom requires great cost and commitment, and great personal sacrifice.'"
Decker sang "God Bless America" and Flory played "Taps" to end the short ceremony.
Freedom Park is located at the Prince William County Government Complex, at 1 County Complex Court in Woodbridge, just off the Prince William Parkway. The War Memorial is a black granite monument inscribed with the names of all county residents who lost their lives while serving in war starting from World War I to present day. There are currently 124 names on the monument. Freedom Park also includes a memorial dedicated to those in the community who died in the attacks on Sep. 11, 2001.