More than a dozen members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Dale City Post 1503 and the Combat Veterans of America Motorcycle Club gathered at Quantico National Cemetery Saturday to find those gravestones not decorated, and place a flag, take a moment for remembrance, and offer one more salute of thanks.
“Memorial Day is to remember people that shed their blood in defense of this country, and a lot of them don’t have friends or family to remember, so it’s important that we, as citizens, come out to honor those people who may be forgotten,” said Tom Levitt, commander of the Dale City VFW. “It’s also to let those families that are still here know that we haven’t forgotten the sacrifice that their loved one made.”
The group worked methodically, moving quietly among the headstones in one of the older sections of the cemetery, and placing an American flag to the left of a headstone, and then reflecting on the person, and coming to attention, and offering another salute to their memory.
Scott “Bandit” Masson, of Lorton, is president of the local Combat Veterans of America Motorcycle Club, and said the important effort is to make sure no one is overlooked.
“Our involvement placing flags at Quantico Cemetery started in conjunction with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1503, ensuring that we had flags out in memory of VFW members who passed. Over the years it’s grown and grown, to where 90% of the graves on Quantico have flags placed. We’re going to take our group of folks who are out here to remember the fallen and go out to the three sections that don’t have flags placed and honor them.”
Bill Wunderle spoke in hushed tones as he offered thanks to those that fought and died.
“As a combat veteran, it’s a solemn event. You can see all these guys who gave all for their country, and it’s important to me to recognize them,” Wunderle said. “They’ll always be remembered while we’re together. We do this for Memorial Day, and for Veterans Day. We come here to Quantico because it’s underserved compared to Arlington. Most of my battle buddies that have died are here.”
Jay Torres, of Woodbridge, brought his wife Sotary and 8-year old daughter Embassy to help augment the headstones for this memorial weekend. Despite the rain, Torres was the only one in the group dressed in a coat, tie and shiny dress shoes.
“This sort of occasion really brings back all the cherished traditions of remembering our fallen comrades. For me, I think there’s no more honorable thing for me to do than to come out, acknowledge and recognize those that came before us,” Torres said. If it weren’t for people who have sacrificed and given their all, we probably wouldn’t have the country that we have right now, so we owe it to them.”