Spring Concert – Royal Examiner

Recognition by Front Royal and Warren County of the ultimate sacrifice required of some citizens to maintain the American ideal of a free and equal society where “all men are created equal” drew a midday crowd approaching triple digits on the grounds of the Warren County Courthouse Monday, May 30. And event co-chair Lt. Col. Rob McDougall, Marine Reserves, the announcement of special guest and keynote speaker Retired Army Staff Sergeant Arthur “Bunky” Woods sent a wave of excitement through part of the crowd aware of Woods’ military service and sacrifice.

It would be an excitement soon shared by everyone present following Woods’ Memorial Day 2022 remarks. For while Woods’ sacrifice on the battlefield was not the ultimate of those who lost their lives in the defense and military service of their nation, it was a sacrifice that changed his life forever. But it wasn’t his serve that Woods focused on when addressing the crowd. Rather, he focused on those with whom he served and knew who did not return from the battlefield with the ability to adjust to a new reality of how the rest of his life would be lived.

Standing center ahead of the event, Memorial Day Co-Chairs Rob McDougall, Uniform, and Able Forces Skip Rogers check out the event lineup as special guest Arthur ‘Bunky’ Woods, center left, prepares for his speech opening night in front of a crowd estimated to be well into the 80s if not older as the afternoon progressed. Below is the trio after the event at the wreath laying site at the memorial to local soldiers killed in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini, video by Mike McCool.

.

Hear these names and the actions that cost them their lives recalled in the Royal Examiner’s video of Monday’s event. Wood’s remarks begin at 28:00 of the video. And as some have done on Memorial Days past, Woods challenged all of us who have benefited from this ultimate sacrifice recognized on this solemn holiday.

“Make time, not just on Memorial Day, but every day, take a moment to say ‘Thank you’ to our dead. For those who have never left the battlefields…we in their hometowns must honor their memory. Live a life worthy of their sacrifice. Live a life to bring pride to this nation,” Woods urged all who listened.

And it’s a timely challenge at a time of growing political and social division. It is a challenge that must be taken to heart by those on all sides of the political spectrum who would place self-interest and profit above the good of the nation and all of its citizens. Are we all up to the task? Time will tell us. But thank you, Arthur “Bunky” Woods, for reminding us not to waste the opportunity America’s dead have given us.

Perspective as McDougall kicks off the FR-WC Memorial Day ceremony, with the help of piper Jim Lundt and the opening invocation of Deacon Rafael Goldsmith.

Event co-chair Skip Rogers followed Woods to the microphone. Rogers, local director of the veterans assistance organization Able Forces, recognized the presence of the Randolph-Macon Academy Color Guard as the potential next generation of duty and service. Rogers brought a third perspective on duty, sacrifice and responsibility to the table, complementing Woods and McDougall’s observations.

A moving invocation was pronounced by Deacon Rafael Goldsmith.

The R-MA Color Guard was the same as quoted in the previous day’s event, with one change. Harrison White replaced Jacob Collyer, joining Ryder Perkins, Audrey Nielson and Trevor Walker, with team commander Matthew Kelly and staff sponsor Chris Edington on hand. And Siobhan Lundt’s vocal accompaniment to the presentation of the colors by the R-MA Cadets would have been a sight in any other venue. – Am I detecting a musical family connection here?!?

The flowery memorial wreath was given for the 10e consecutive year by Fussell Florists, whose owner Katie Bennett received a nod from MacDougall, along with others who contributed to the day’s event.

The R-MA Color Guard performs with the impressive vocal accompaniment of Siobhan Lundt on the national anthem.

As noted in the Royal Examiner’s message yesterday on Part 1 of this community’s solemn reminder of the sacrifice of soldiers, two-legged and four-legged, this is the first year in a decade of the resurrection of the ceremonies of the Memorial Day here initiated by our colleague Malcolm Barr Sr., in which military-trained “war dogs” and their human colleagues were honored at separate events. LINK–First

Annual Dogs of War Memorial Garden event a resounding success

However, our community’s close connection to the initial training of war dogs at the start of World War II and the lifelong partnership between these canine soldiers and their handlers and fellow soldiers remains, as recognized at both ceremonies. In fact, Monday’s co-chairs Rob McDougall and Skip Rogers both attended Sunday’s Dogs of War and K-9 Corps event at the Julia Wagner Animal Shelter’s new War Dogs Garden of Remembrance. And Rogers was the keynote speaker at that event.

See more photos from Monday’s event and the full exclusive Royal Examiner Remembrance Day 2022 video from Front Royal and Warren County, below:

Event Co-Chair and Moderator Lt. Col. McDougall introduced Arthur “Bunky” Woods for his opening remarks.

The bagpipes played again during the wreath laying ceremony at the memorial to local soldiers who lost their lives in the Korean and Vietnam wars. These included current County Council Chairman Cheryl Cullers, Marine Cpl. Larry Smedley, killed in the Vietnamese province of Quang Nam in 1967. Woods accompanied Cullers to the crown after the presentation of the Color Guard. Memorials to local dead of various wars, including the Civil War, are located at various locations on the grounds of the Warren County Courthouse. As he did last year, McDougall noted that Memorial Day began as Decorating Day in May 1868 in the aftermath of the Civil War.