As it always is, the emotional theme of Front Royal’s sixth annual and now municipally-sponsored event was sacrifice in service to one’s country – and the lasting pain of the one’s left behind by those who make the ultimate sacrifice – their lives.
“For some, every day is Memorial Day,” keynote speaker Lt. Colonel Michael Starling, U.S. Marine Corps (retired) said of those who have lost a friend, family member or loved one to war. It is a loss the pain of which does not go away for 364 days of the year until the next official national remembrance.
The ultimate sacrifice and the pain of that sacrifice on those left behind was a connecting theme throughout the remarks in the opening phase of the program – the phase dedicated to human sacrifice. As Front Royal Memorial Day event founder and Co-Chairman Malcolm Barr Sr. noted in opening his remarks, the Front Royal event is unique in its two-phased tribute to human and canine service and sacrifice.
Royal Examiner cameras were there! CLICK HERE to watch the ceremony.
“I have always felt it appropriate to do this in Front Royal since it was here that the first enlisted dogs of World War II were trained in 1942,” Barr said in his remarks on Memorial Day 2018, telling the crowd, “This parade of canines is our way of paying tribute to the war dogs, together with the dogs of local law enforcement, who spend their lives protecting us and our families in these times of strife here and around the world.”
In his blessing offered to the dogs of war and those dogs present with their owners in phase two of the ceremony, lay Minister Michael Williams noted the nature of the canines “who give their unconditional love to us whether we deserve it or not.”
In launching the parade of dogs, Williams thanked the Almighty for the gifts of friendship and devotion from our canine companions – “Especially for the dogs that with their lives daily, protect our local streets, our airports, our borders, our first responders, our soldiers. We bless them today, and all animals, for their selfless sacrifice, that they might live long and beautiful lives, reminding us of the ultimate love that you gave us, through the sacrifice of your only son.”
And it was a handsome variety of dogs large and small that partook with their owners in the annual Parade of Canines.
But after presenting his overview of this year’s event, again moderated by Co-Chairman Maj. Robert MacDougall, USMC Reserve, Barr returned to phase one of the ceremony. Quoting from an article in the Washington Post by Marine veteran Gus Biggio, Barr read the Afghan war veteran’s observation on the reality lived by soldiers at war and those left behind:
“We choose to serve. And when we choose to serve sometimes chance chooses us. Every deployed service member leaves behind someone who cares, someone who, when giving one last hug before their warrior ships out, feels their pride clash with the fear that this last hug might be the last hug. After that, every call from an unknown number, every unexpected knock on the door, reignites the constant worry in the daily lives of those on the home front, making them shudder at the prospect of what might be.”
Barr continued to recount Biggio’s observations on death in service in the America of the 21st century – an America where military service is now voluntary; an America that periodically places prohibitions on news agencies filming the return of American servicemen in caskets from overseas, including from the Afghan front where Biggio served nine years ago in what is now America’s longest-running military conflict.
“In an era when military service is the exception rather than the norm, the death of our service members in combat is often a concept as distant as the lands where they fought. Local newspapers may run an article about the hometown hero, but usually little attention is paid to a life cut short in service to our nation, the loss drowned out among news of celebrity gossip, political shenanigans or the other minutiae that consume our lives. The families of those killed in action are soon left to face their grief as well as they can, often alone. For them, the ceremonies honoring their loved ones are a stark reminder that one of the constant realities of war throughout history is that bad things will happen to good people. – This Memorial Day, take a moment to honor and remember them,” Barr quoted Biggio’s conclusion.
Keynote speaker Starling then rose to put a human face, a local face on the day. He noted that Joseph Warren, the Massachusetts physician, state congressman and soldier for whom Warren County, Virginia is named, died a hero’s death in the Battle of Bunker Hill during the Revolutionary War.
Lt. Col. Starling then recited the names and personal histories of some of the sons of Front Royal and Warren County whose lives have been lost to war: Edward Eugene Casarotti – “baseball in 1930’s; silk industry in town; landed at Utah Beach at Normandy (with this reporter’s father) – “Lost while clearing western France of German forces”. Larry Eugene Smedley – born Front Royal 1949; attended high school in Orlando, Florida and joined the Marines before graduation; led his six-man squad in Vietnam on a pre-emptive attack against a superior force raining U.S. troops with rockers, mortars and machine gun fire; died from wounds incurred on a successful attack on the machine-gun position. Charles William Davis – the Polk Avenue resident of Front Royal called “Bongo” by his football coach, joined and re-enlisted to serve in Vietnam. Lost in action on July 6, 1966, at age 25 during security patrols near DaNang in Quang Nam Province.
Noting the loss of friends he had served with, Lt. Col. Starling, now an official at Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, added one R-MA name out of 51 he noted are etched on a memorial wall at the academy for cadets lost in wars since World War I: Adam Mooney – R-MA Class of 1992, Army helicopter pilot, killed on January 25, 2004 when his helicopter crashed trying to rescue a soldier whose boat had capsized in the Tigris River during the Iraq War. Of Mooney’s loss, Starling noted, “Adam’s body was recovered three weeks later, just after his first wedding anniversary.”
“Our nation’s military ranks are filled with the likes of Casarotti, Davis, Smedley, Mooney. Some end up making the ultimate sacrifice to secure the freedom we enjoy every day. We owe them a debt we cannot pay in our lifetime,” Lt. Col. Starling told Front Royal’s Memorial Day crowd.
But if not paid in full, Starling asked those present to begin that payment by remembering and sharing – “Their stories convey values of service, valor, patriotism and sacrifice that are some of the strongest fibers of our nation’s character. It is our solemn duty to remember and recall these stories of those we know, and from where we live, so that they may be securely possessed by future generations.”
And as another step in paying our debt to those whose lives have been sacrificed for the greater good of a nation, Lt. Col. Starling asked those present to volunteer for service at home – “Get in the trenches to improve humanity and contribute to the greater good here at home, starting in our hometowns,” Starling suggested, observing, “There are plenty of worthy causes looking for the tenacious and those willing to sacrifice some of their time and talents.”
And there is a Memorial Day challenge we should all embrace – for those who didn’t make it home to offer their perspective and talents to their communities and nation.
Starling closed by acknowledging the loss of Marine Colonel Wesley Fox (retired), who passed away last November; as well as all the Gold Star family members present.
Also acknowledged by speakers were veterans present, including another one of our own local heroes, Bunky Woods – a survivor of the Iraq War wounded while leading a rescue mission for other U.S. soldiers wounded in the field – God bless and great seeing you again, Bunky.
Putting a sterling musical backdrop on the event was the Skyline High Brass Ensemble; Veteran Diana Lieber and Service Dog Bentley led the Parade of Dogs; Dennis Henline, president of Front Royal’s Elks Club 2382, an ordained minister and veteran of both the U.S. Army (1971-73) and the U.S. Marine Corps (1973-80), provided the invocation and closing prayer; R-MA cadets commanded by T/Sgt. Tina Laing, a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Iraq war, provided a guard of honor for the wreath-laying ceremony; young Jacob Bols returned to Warren County to play taps to conclude the event; Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tony Carter, North River Supervisor Dan Murray and Front Royal Mayor Hollis Tharpe represented the community during the ceremonies; and the AFA handed out flags, courtesy of retired Chief Master Sgt. Norman Brander.
And so it goes in our own age of “perpetual war for perpetual peace” predicted by British author George Orwell in the shadow of World War II and at the dawn of the Cold War with the 1948 publication of his dark futuristic vision “1984”.
Congratulations to Warren County High School Seniors – Class of 2020
Royal Examiner presents the Warren County High School Class of 2020. Congratulations to these wonderful seniors on their hard work and deserved accomplishments! We wish you the best in your next big endeavors. Photos courtesy of the Victor O’Neill Studios.
“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”
“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.
“The highest result of education is tolerance.”
“The most important thing in your life is to live your life with integrity and to not give into peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not.”
“Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning.”
—Senator Orrin Hatch
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse.”
“There are no regrets in life. Just lessons.”
“Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.”
“Every person you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.”
—H Jackson Brown Jr.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
—Henry David Thoreau
“The most rewarding things in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.”
“If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
—Vincent Van Gogh
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
“You have to dance a little bit before you step out into the world each day, because it changes the way you walk.”
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
“I encourage you to live with life. Be courageous, adventurous. Give us a tomorrow, more than we deserve.”
Get busy living or get busy dying.”
“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
“Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.”
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”
—William Arthur Ward
“Love the life you live. Live the life you love.”
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”
It’s burned up – forget it: Call dad and tell him his truck is toast in Front Royal
Mid-afternoon, Thursday, June 25, a vehicle fire was reported in the parking lot of the commercial strip anchored by Anthony’s Pizza on the 100 block of South Royal Avenue. First responders from Warren County Fire & Rescue and the Front Royal Police Department found a pickup truck with West Virginia tags parked on the street side of the lot with an engine fire engaged and no occupants apparent.
This reporter arrived after the fire had been extinguished and only one town police unit remained at the scene. That officer pointed out a thick fluid trail that appeared to run from the 1993 Ford Ranger pickup through a portion of the parking lot, perhaps indicating a fluid leak as a source or consequence of the engine fire.
Our inquiry to responding agencies led to information from the FRPD Public Information Department’s Jessica Racer, who told us, “The incident was a vehicle fire, not arson and not suspicious in nature. The owner’s name is Roger Haines in Hampshire County (West Virginia).”
FRPD Captain Crystal Cline later told Royal Examiner that the truck’s owner was contacted by running the tags and requesting Hampshire County authorities to contact him. That route was required because apparently the truck’s driver and a passenger left the scene without ever making contact with local authorities, first responders, or potentially impacted businesses in the commercial strip.
Captain Cline reported that Mr. Haines “advised that the vehicle was not stolen, and he had given his daughter permission to drive the vehicle” and that he was “aware that the vehicle was broken down” and “had already contacted a towing company” about recovering it.
This scenario seems to confirm information from a witness to the vehicle fire who told a Royal Examiner source that the vehicle’s occupants, described as a man and woman, left the scene on foot without contacting responders about their connection to the vehicle. According to the witness, the pair left the truck cab locked as they exited it with the engine smoking before walking to the adjacent Jack Evans Chevrolet lot to watch at distance as responders arrived to extinguish the developing engine fire. Eventually, they left the scene on foot down South Royal Avenue without any apparent contact with authorities, the witness reported.
That’s a long hitchhike back to Hampshire County – no time to waste apparently.
Music park at Burrell Brooks, Jr. Community Park ribbon cutting ceremony
On Friday, June 26, 2020, citizens, friends and family, Parks and Recreation Commission members, Warren County Board of Supervisors members, and County Administrator Doug Stanley gathered to welcome Dr. Lorraine LeHew Hultquist’s generous gift to Burrell Brooks, Jr. Community Park.
This is Dr. Hultquist’s third music park donation to the Warren County park system. In 2017, Ms. Hultquist suggested the idea of adding a music park to one of the County’s facilities after visiting similar parks in Utah and Oregon, and the County celebrated the first music park addition at Rockland Park in November 2017. The following year, a second music park addition was built in Lions Park.
In late 2019, Dr. Lorraine LeHew Hultquist donated the new Deluxe Collection music system to be installed at Burrell Brooks, Jr. Community Park. The mixed quartet offers a musical experience for all through a specially designed ensemble that delivers a variety of sound qualities and pitch ranges. The equipment is multi-generational, interactive, durable, and perfectly tuned. Everyone, regardless of age or ability, can play. Her generous support of the music parks will allow our community to enjoy the enrichment of music and will inspire future musicians.
At the ribbon cutting, long-time Warren County Parks and Recreation Commission member Ron Harvey provided a history of the Commission, recreation in the community, and how the generosity of the community has allowed the parks to flourish.
Board of Supervisors Vice Chair and South River District Supervisor Cheryl Cullers noted the importance of music in the development of children, who will now have the opportunity to enjoy this park and its new addition donated by Dr. Lorraine LeHew Hultquist. She added, “The addition of this music equipment to Burrell Brooks Park will, I believe, give the children of the community at an early age, access to music as an avenue to hopefully start a lifelong love of music, as well as to have the experience to exercise their own creative musical talents.”
The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department is very grateful for Dr. Hultquist’s generous gifts to our local parks for the benefit of all citizens. County Administrator Doug Stanley, noting her previous donations, stated, “I would like to personally thank Lorraine for her kind and generous monetary gift for this magnificent music park for all of Warren County patrons to enjoy and for her support of the entire Parks and Recreation system. It is truly fitting that she is honored today for her gracious and kind gift!”
Three words: The test of liberty or tyranny
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Since 1776 when those words were written in the Declaration of Independence, the world has seen kings and tyrants who, fooling men with their sweet-sounding philosophies, tried to steal their rights and liberty, and many times succeeded.
Yet, in this famous sentence, Thomas Jefferson gives us three words that are the test for tyranny:
The Creator gives rights to men and women as a gift — an endowment — what the dictionary calls a ‘fund for permanent support.’ No man gives these rights to people, for these rights are already theirs. No king can decide which people get to exercise these rights because each person has been given the free gift of these permanent rights, not one more than another.
These obvious rights, given as a permanent gift from God, cannot be taken away by any person, and neither can a man surrender his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Town Talk: A conversation with Tim Ratigan – support our local law enforcement officers
In this Town Talk, our publisher Mike McCool speaks with Tim Ratigan. Tim has started a movement in our community to support our local law enforcement officers from the Front Royal Police Department and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Our local law enforcement officers serve to defend the freedom, fairness, and individual liberties that our forefathers fought and died. These brave men and women risk their lives every day to maintain a civil society and the rule of law.
On Friday evening, July 3rd, another group of community supporters are meeting at the Gazebo in Front Royal from 5 pm to 7:30 pm. Come show your appreciation, support, and respect for local Law Enforcement, Fire, and Emergency Personnel along with the flag of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA! This is a free informal gathering for those interested in showing their support and to say thanks.
No frills, nothing more than thank you to those men and women who serve our community. You are free to wear a mask, practice distancing, bring “Old Glory” (lots of them), bring a lounge chair, sing the National Anthem, God Bless America, etc, stroll along Main Street, which will be closed to vehicle traffic for outdoor dining and shopping. Come and enjoy yourselves and be thankful for those who simply wish to “Serve and Protect”.
Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com
Front Royal Unites seeks teamwork with Warren County School Board
Two organizers of Front Royal Unites, a newly formed nonprofit working for the lawful and equal treatment of all races and ethnic groups, on Wednesday, requested that the Warren County School Board work with the organization to address any racial disparities in Warren County Public Schools (WCPS).
A few of the School Board members agreed that the group’s request was reasonable and warranted.
“The reason we have come to you today is that in the past… we’ve had some racial disparities that we’ve experienced within the school system,” said Stevi Hubbard of Front Royal Unites.
Hubbard reminded board members that she previously appeared before the School Board to raise related topics, and told them during their Wednesday, July 1 meeting that the board has not addressed those concerns “in any way shape or form, which is pretty upsetting.”
Since her earlier visits, Hubbard said data has been collected on how students feel like they are being disproportionately punished or not included in certain programming based on color. And she noted that racial slurs have been painted on school buildings.
“We hope we can work with you on these issues this year, and we would like to see those changes made this year,” said Hubbard, adding that she doesn’t want to have her child or other students and staff attending school and seeing racist comments or graffiti on school properties.
“It is our hope that you will take us seriously now,” said Hubbard, pointing out to the School Board that Front Royal Unites now has 2,500 members supporting the group.
Samuel Porter, the spokesman for Front Royal Unites and a 2011 graduate of Skyline High School, said he wanted to ensure that “we’re all very cognizant” about the racial comments that sometimes might be made at school or online.
“There are some bad people. We are just trying to make sure that our students are going to safe environments, and they don’t have to worry based on what they look like on the outside,” Porter told School Board members during the community participation segment of their regular meeting on Wednesday.
Warren County School Board member James Wells, who represents the Happy Creek District, told the Front Royal Unites representatives that he was on board with their request.
“Whatever you need,” Wells told them. “I’ll give you my phone number. I’ll give you my emails. I would be glad to meet with you at any time because your cause is just, and I’d be more than happy to work with you.”
School Board Chairman Arnold Williams, Jr., agreed. “As Mr. Wells said, we will work with you guys,” he told Porter and Hubbard.
Formed in May, Front Royal Unites in June quickly organized and held two local peaceful civil rights marches.
Porter and Hubbard also recently spoke during the June 22 Front Royal Town Council meeting, where they applauded Front Royal Police Chief Kahle Magalis and the department for proactively working with the group to support those marches.
“We come to the table very peacefully… to build bridges, not burn them,” Porter told the council members.
To hear the comments given by the Front Royal Unites organizers during the School Board meeting, watch the Royal Examiner video below.