As Memorial Day approaches, there is a tendency to group the men and women in our armed services together, depending on what conflict or branch of service in which they served. Particularly on this day of remembrance, our focus is rightly on the thousands who have been lost in our nation’s conflicts.
But in talking about our armed service members, we want to remember that each veteran is an individual, someone’s mother or father, son or daughter, brother or sister. Each has had a unique experience, depending on when and where they served and the specific circumstances of their tours of duty.
For service members, their days in uniform forever color the rest of their lives.
We are reminded of this upon reading the story in this week’s paper about a career soldier who turns 100 years old next week. His stories, gathered over 32 years in the U.S. Army, are uniquely his own.
The same is true of the Vietnam veteran who received letters of thanks from Fauquier County folks -- and wrote a letter to the editor to express his appreciation. Both are combat veterans but each had a distinct experiences.
The lives of our brothers and sisters who serve in law enforcement have also been influenced by their service. Our communities took time last week, during National Police Week, to honor those who served and sacrificed their lives in the line of duty closer to home.
Fauquier County Sheriff Bob Mosier reminded those assembled for an annual law enforcement memorial service on Wednesday, May 15, that, "It's not how these officers died that made them heroes, it's how they lived." The quote is from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C.
"Every day starts out as a normal day, then sometimes, something goes tragically wrong. We can apply best practices in law enforcement, and still tragedies occur," Mosier said. The sheriff remembered the lives of three local officers who died in the line of duty in Fauquier County.
In similar services last week, Prince William County remembered four officers who were killed in the line of duty and in service to our community.
In 1973, Officer Paul Thomas “Pete” White, 23, died from injuries he sustained in an auto accident that occurred while he was responding in his cruiser to another accident in Haymarket.
In 1990, Officer Michael Pennington, 35, was killed by gunfire while responding to a call in Dale City involving a man who had already shot a deputy in Arlington County.
In 2012, Officer Chris Yung, 35, was killed in a motorcycle accident in Bristow. He was also responding to a call.
And in 2016, Officer Ashley Guindon, 28, was killed by gunfire when she and three other officers responded to a domestic violence call in Woodbridge. Two other officers were also shot and seriously wounded in that incident.
Both Yung and Guindon had also served in the military before joining the police force.
For military and police families who have lost someone they love to war or in the service to their communities, the pain is always personal. It’s not only about the platoon or the military unit that was lost; it’s about their loved one.
This Memorial Day let’s honor all the soldiers who have served with courage and commitment. Each one made a unique sacrifice, and each deserves our wholehearted thanks.