On May 29, downtown Leesburg was silent.
Riveted by speeches, honor guards and, many gathered at the old courthouse steps said they were captivated by the sanctity of the moment and the magnitude of the silence. That reverence was a small sign of respect from those in attendance, a privilege they realized was gifted to them by those who gave everything they had.
As part of Memorial Day celebrations across Loudoun County, Leesburg hosted its annual remembrance event on the courthouse lawn. Several hundred gathered to hear the speeches, witness the military procession and reflect on the fallen military members who died protecting their country.
“The cost of independence remains high, but we are willing to pay it,” said retired Army Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, the event’s keynote speaker. “We do not pay it gladly, but we pay it with reverence and thanks for those who sacrificed their lives to America.”
The Board Chair of George Marshall International Foundation, Lawrence was joined on stage by Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk, who herself has family ties to all five branches of the U.S. military. She also addressed the several hundred gathered at the event, thanking those gathered for honoring the fallen and reminding everyone of the importance of our service members.
“It really shows that people still care. They haven’t forgotten,” Burk said. “People don’t think about what it means to be in the military if they’re not in it. There’s a lot of sacrifice.”
After speeches from Lawrence and Burk, a contingent of veterans led a ceremony featuring the presentation of the nation’s colors, a wreath laying and the playing of taps. In attendance where several elected officials, including Barbara Comstock, who represents Loudoun in the House of Representatives, Jennifer Wexton, who represents Leesburg and parts of Loudoun in the state Senate, and Attorney General Mark Herring.
“It’s really great to come together as a community here in Leesburg to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of this nation and the values we all share,” Herring said.