RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia War Memorial has honored Virginia’s veterans for decades, but more recently, a Wall of Honor has been erected to bear witness to the men and women we’ve lost in the ongoing war on terror.
But how the Wall of Honor came to be is different than the memorials for the other wars.
It all started with a father in Stewart, Virginia determined to honor his fallen Marine son.
A Virginia flag that belonged Darrell Bowling’s son, Marine Corporal Jonathan Bowling, was delivered home after Jonathan was killed in action on January 26, 2005.
The flag flew above the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion in Iraq.
“I thought it belonged to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Gold Star Father, Darrell Bowling.
When that flag finally came home, Darrell Bowling knew something had to be done to honor its service and to help memorialize his son.
“If I forget, those that didn’t know him at all surely will,” Bowling said.
After a chance encounter with former Governor Bob McDonnell, the flag ended up in Richmond.
Its story set wheels in motion to create a memorial honoring all of the Virginians lost in the war on terror.
“We didn’t want it to be impersonal, be metal or stone,” Bowling said. “We wanted you to be able to look into the eyes of the individual that was lost.”
A room at the Virginia War Memorial gives visitors, students, veterans, and families the chance to witness the fallen Virginians of our current war.
Now, Darrell Bowling shares his son’s story with other military families to keep Jonathan heroic legacy alive.
“That’s kinda my role in life now is to make sure nobody forgets what he did,” Bowling said.
At the War Memorial last weekend, Darrell Bowling remarked how many new additions have been added to the wall since his last visit.
While he says the loss of his son is heartbreaking even 12 years later, he works to honor all the fallen heroes on the Wall of Honor, not just his son.
If you have a story idea to be featured on Virginia’s Veterans, send 8News an email at iReport8@wric.com.