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In their RIGHTFUL PLACE
SoVaNow.com / May 29, 2014A teeming crowd gathered Monday morning to pay tribute to more than 750 war dead whose names are now listed on the War Memorial in the Town of Halifax — with the addition of four more local soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice serving in America’s armed conflicts.
Local veterans who were among those in attendance at the annual event, conducted each year on the morning of Memorial Day.
This year was special because of the four men whose names were added to the monument. Their inclusion drew visitors from as far away as Texas to take part in the service.
Anita Junell Lynn, a descendant of Pvt. Sylvester Juniel’s brother, Robert, was the first to alert members of the Memorial Committee to the fact that her relative’s name was not engraved on the monument.
She and her husband, Charles from Marble Falls, Texas, traveled to be here for the tribute to Sylvester Juniel, the oldest son of a Swiss emigrant, who served in the Revolutionary War, in early 1777 in Capt. Mosley’s Company. Suffering from bitter cold and the lack of clothing and food and a smallpox epidemic, he died on March 20, 1777. (The family name changed from Juniel to Junell as family members moved about the country.)
James Guthrie, a family member of another newly listed soldier on the monument, John B. Guthrie, traveled to the event from Lumberton, N.C. James Guthrie had advised Memorial Committee members that his descendant’s name was missing from the list. John Guthrie enlisted in Capt. William Mebane’s Company, also known as the “Danville Cavalry” on March 25, 1862. It later became a part of the 5th Regiment of Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War. He was killed in battle on October 12, 1863, “shot through with a minnie ball” at Raccoon Ford, Virginia, which is located on the Rapidan River.
The other names added are those of James Murray and John B. Overby Jr.
Frank Overby of Montpelier, a direct descendant of John B. Overby Jr., was present for the Monday tribute and unveiled not only Overby’s newly engraved name but also that of James Murray, who joined the army at the same time.
Both men were among a number of young men living in southeastern Halifax County who enlisted in October 1861 in what became Company C of the 2nd Battalion of North Carolina Infantry.
Pvt. Overby came down with measles and died in a Richmond hospital on December 18, 1861, just two months after entering the Army. Pvt. Murray died shortly thereafter in January 1862, just three months after enlisting.
Guest speaker for the event, Brig. Gen. Don Broome (Ret), president of Hargrave Military Academy, remarked that there is no better way to spend a Memorial Day than to recognize the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for their country and to ensure its freedom.
“We don’t know why they did it … whether they were drafted, or sought the benefits or simply joined for the love of their country. But what we do know is that they fought for their brothers and sisters with love for each of them,” said Broome.
Turning to current events, Broome pointed out that the country has been at war for over a decade with 6,808 service members killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Recalling the service of a native son — Major Bill Watkins, known to his fellow officers as “Salty”, who was killed in Iraq in April 2003 — Broome reflected on how little people today think about or are exposed to military service.
Broome said only one-half of one percent of the population serves in the military today, compared to 12 percent who served in World War II. He noted that 84 percent of Americans today have little connection to or knowledge of the military.
Only 20 percent of Congressional representatives have military experience today compared with 70 percent in 1976, he said. Broome spoke about his own career in the military, and how two service members under his command sacrificed their lives, as he pointed to the importance of remembering the sacrifices that young people make in entering the military.
Monday’s program opened with an invocation delivered by Rev. Bill Wilkins, followed by the posting of colors by Boy Scout Trooper 497. Allen Anderson sang the National Anthem with other special music provided by Ricky Gordon and members of Saved by Grace.
A 21 gun salute was made and Taps was played by the Honor Guard of American Legion Post 8.
Memorial wreaths were presented by a number of organizations including the local chapter of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, the DAR, American Legion Posts 8 and 99, the Vietnam Veterans, the Historic Staunton River Foundation and local VFW chapters, along with others.
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