Memorial Day in Colonial Heights
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
May 27, 2014, 15:14
BLAKE BELDEN/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Members of the Colonial Heights community participated in the laying of wreaths to honor our fallen troops.
COLONIAL HEIGHTS — For many people, Memorial Day is just another day off that kick starts the summer with a three-day weekend, a vacation at the lake and copious amounts of relaxation.
While all of this sounds great, often times the true meaning of the holiday goes unnoticed, and the names of the lives lost by American soldiers who fight for us to enjoy this holiday grow dusty on a vast bookshelf of forgotten heroes.
Craig Worsham, a Virginia State Police captain who enlisted in the Army at the age of 18 and served from 2010-2011 in Afghanistan, said that preserving the memory of our fallen, American soldiers should be considered a “civic obligation,” a necessary method for honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance. ... Far too often, the nation as a whole takes for granted the freedoms all Americans enjoy. Those freedoms were paid for with the lives of others few of us actually knew,” Worsham said during his keynote speech at the Colonial Heights’s Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday morning.
Worsham went on to recount several tales of men and women he knew who have died while wearing a uniform for the United States.
On April 27, 2011, a green-on-blue attack, an insider attack where rogue Afghan security forces turn on their NATO counterparts, caused the death of eight members of the U.S. Air Force and one civilian contractor. The attack occurred on a compound beside the NATO base, and the casualties were airmen who Worsham knew from training exercises during his stint in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, where he acted as a principal operational planner for the Afghan National Police.
During the attack, an Afghan military pilot of 20 years opened fire upon NATO troops at an airbase in Kabul, according to an article in the Long War Journal.
“These were men and women that I saw every day. I was well acquainted with some of these men and women. We would exercise together, run laps around our little small compound, have breakfast together and often times have dinner,” Worsham said, stressing the notion that this attack redefined the meaning of the word “action” and that counter-insurgency struggles are present everywhere in the field of operations.
The list of those who died on that day is as follows: Lt. Col. Frank D. Bryant Jr., Major Philip D. Ambard, Maj. Jeffrey O. Ausborn, Maj. David L. Brodeur, Master Sgt. Tara R. Brown, Maj. Raymond G. Estelle II, Capt. Nathan J. Nylander, Maj. Charles A. Ransom and retired Lt. Col. James McLaughlin Jr.
Worsham also spoke of 23-year-old U.S. Marine Corporal Jonathan Bowling who was killed in Iraq in 2005.
From Stuart, Va., Bowling died from wounds received during a conflict in the al-Anbar province while serving for the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division which was headquartered in Lynchburg.
The Colonial Heights community saluted the flag in honor of Memorial Day at the War Memorial on Monday morning.
Worsham said that both he and his wife knew Bowling personally, and that Worsham had worked with Bowling’s father, Darrell, for many years in the Virginia State Police.
After receiving a call from Darrell following Jonathan’s death asking him to attend an honorary funeral service, Worsham said that he will never forget that moment and the undeniable pride that Darrell had for the service of his son.
“Jonathan dedicated his life to the service of others. As a police officer and a firefighter, he put himself in harm’s way to protect members of his community. ... By his enlistment, he placed the needs of his country over his own,” Worsham said, applauding the example that Jonathan has set for others.
Worsham said that he believes the United States has lived up to Ronald Reagan’s words, when he spoke in the 1980s of the United States as an exemplary “beacon of hope” and symbol for freedom against those who wish to spread terrorism and dispel freedom around the world.
Vice Mayor Diane Yates also quoted Reagan during a speech at the ceremony.
“Those who say we live in a time where there are no heroes simply don’t know where to look,” Yates said.
Yates, who commended the efforts of our nation’s troops, said that those who risk their lives on a daily basis serving this country are not the only ones who should be recognized for their heroism.
“Each spouse, parent and child of a loved one who has served in our country or is currently serving are heroes for they too have sacrificed,” Yates said.
The ceremony took place at the War Memorial on the Boulevard. VFW Chaplain Eric Hopkins, VFW Post 2239 Commander Randall Wachman, American Legion Chaplain William Gibson III and American Legion Post 284 Commander John Ronkartz were present for the ceremony.