Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement today as Virginia observes Memorial Day across the Commonwealth:
“As Americans across our great nation enjoy Memorial Day, I wish to remind Virginians that this holiday, first observed in 1868, is about more than cookouts, a long weekend and the unofficial start of summer. It is about remembering those who fought and gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom and the American way of life. This year alone, 27 additional heroes were recognized as Virginians who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the ongoing war on terror with their names added to Virginia's Wall of Honor.
“These include United States Army soldiers: Private First Class Alvaro R. Regalado Sessarego – Virginia Beach, VA; Specialist Brian M. Anderson – Harrisonburg, VA; Captain Michael P. Cassidy – Arlington, VA; Private First Class Benjamin J. Park – Fairfax Station, VA; Private First Class David Taylor Miller – Amherst, VA; Specialist Morganne M. McBeth – Fredericksburg, VA; Staff Sergeant Christopher F. Cabacoy – Virginia Beach, VA; Specialist Matthew E. George – Virginia Beach, VA; Staff Sergeant Jaime C. Newman – Richmond, VA; First Lieutenant Todd W. Weaver – Hampton, VA; Private First Class Tramaine J. Billingsley – Portsmouth, VA; Corporal William Kyle Middleton – Norfolk, VA; Specialist Sean R. Cutsforth – Radford, VA; From The United States Marines, Sergeant Donald J. Lamar, II – Fredericksburg, VA; Corporal Nicholas D. Parada Rodriguez – Stafford, VA; Lance Corporal Cody S. Childers – Chesapeake, VA; Sergeant Ronald A. Rodriguez – Falls Church, VA, Sergeant Sean T. Callahan – Warrenton, VA; From The United States Air Force, Airman First Class Zachary R. Cuddeback – Stanardsville, VA; Major Charles A. Ransom – Midlothian, VA; from The United States Navy, Signalman Seaman Cherone Gunn-Newport News, VA; from the Central Intelligence Agency Elizabeth Hanson, Scott Roberson, Darren LaBonte, Dane Paresi, Jeremy Wise, Jennifer Matthews –Langley – McLean, VA.
“With world events continuing to require our men and women to put themselves in harm's way to protect our safety and ideals, the meaning of this day is especially poignant. I fervently hope that all Virginians will take the opportunity this Memorial Day to thank a service member in uniform and a veteran for their service in the defense of freedom, and to also remember all those who we have lost, as well as all those who continue to serve today.
“Memorial Day is also a day to reflect upon those right here at home in our law enforcement community who place themselves in harm's way to keep us safe. Since January 2010, seven state and local law enforcement officers have given their lives to protect and serve Virginians including: Tazewell County Deputy Sheriff Thomas A. Reid; Richmond City Deputy Sheriff Caroline Green, Spotsylvania County Deputy Sheriff Dean Ridings; Tazewell County Deputy Sheriff Shawnell Hess; Virginia State Trooper Mark D. Barrett; Buchanan County Deputy Sheriffs Cameron Neil Justus and William “Billy” Ezra Stiltner.
“Seeing the sacrifices so many Virginians have made to protect us is a solemn reminder that freedom is not free and that we must remain vigilant in protecting our values and principles that make America great.
“On behalf of a grateful nation and 8 million Virginians who are able to rest under the blanket of freedom our military members and law enforcement provide, I wish to personally thank the men and women who serve and their families for all of their sacrifices, and to honor the 27 Virginia military personnel and seven law enforcement officers who were honored this year for making the ultimate sacrifice in the fight for freedom this past year.”