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Saluting the Brave

The 11hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – Veterans Day 2020



Lest we not forget. Join us as we celebrate the 102nd anniversary of the armistice ending World War I. The Giles B. Cook American Legion Post 53 hosted the event this year.  Rick Kinsey, Commander of Post 53 made the opening remarks and introduced guest speaker Laltit “Pip” Piplani, Sgt-at-Arms Post 53.

The following message is from Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs:

On Veterans Day in 1988, Ronald Reagan said … “We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty. . . Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause.”

Each Veterans Day is a remembrance set aside to honor those who have defended our country in peace and war.

On November 11th, we pause to reflect on American Veterans, men, and women who have served and sacrificed while wearing the uniforms of the Nation—ordinary Americans performing extraordinary service.

In March 1864, after almost 3 years of devastating fighting in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln reminded the nation of the sacrifices veterans make for us all … “All that a man hath he will give his life for his country … the soldier puts his life at stake, and often yields it up in his country’s cause. The highest merit, then, is due the soldier.”

That demonstration of “highest merit” has now spanned 244 years, founded upon a singular, enduring principle—Liberty and Justice for All.

Every American is a beneficiary of veterans’ vigilance and valor, and their contributions to our way of life are incalculable. At the Department of Veterans Affairs, every day is Veterans Day. We are privileged to work to repay, in full, our country’s debt of gratitude…  to Veterans who were there when we needed them most. We represent our grateful nation in delivering to those Veterans the programs and services they earned.

In doing so, we keep faith with the promise of President Lincoln, who promised in his iconic second inaugural address to “care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan. ” On Veterans Day 2020, we remember and honor all “champions of a noble cause” … and pledge never to forget the sacrifices they made for us.

On behalf of VA’s over 415,000 employees, I am proud to extend to America’s veterans our department’s heartfelt appreciation and thanks for your service in the formations of the United States Armed Forces.

Thank you and God Bless you all.

Robert Wilkie

The Honorable Robert L. Wilkie was sworn in to serve as secretary of Veterans Affairs on July 30, 2018. He also served as the acting secretary of Veterans Affairs from March 28, 2018, to May 29, 2018.

Before confirmation as VA Secretary, Mr. Wilkie served Secretary James Mattis as his Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness—the principal advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense for Total Force Management as it relates to readiness, National Guard and Reserve component affairs, health affairs, training, and personnel requirements and management, including equal opportunity, morale, welfare, recreation, and the quality of life for military families.

Watch the ceremony on the exclusive Royal Examiner video:

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Local News

America’s veterans remembered and honored for their service across the years



At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 2021, local veterans and citizens gathered at the Warren County Courthouse in Front Royal for the annual tribute to military veterans for their service to the nation. This year’s moderator, event sponsor Giles B. Cook American Legion Post 53’s Adjutant and Afghan War veteran David Kaplan, opened the ceremony with a moment of silence for those not present. Kaplan then called the Front Royal Police Honor Guard to present the colors. Post 53 Chaplain Charlie Goddard gave the opening prayer, followed by the empty chair ceremony conducted by Post 53 Commander Rick Kinsey in honor of all POWs and those Missing In Action from all wars.

At the podium, Post 53 Adjutant David Kaplan leads salute during the national anthem and presenting of colors by FRPD Honor Guard, as below the crowd salutes back. Further below, Post 53 Commander Rick Kinsey addresses the ‘Empty Chair’ in memory of all POWs and MIAs. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini, Video by Mike McCool.

Prior to the official opening of this year’s ceremonies, as is tradition the bands of Warren County and Skyline High Schools and Randolph-Macon Academy warmed the crowd up – though mid-fall temperatures were comfortably near projected highs in the low 60s on the day – and provided the National Anthem during the ceremony.

Partially obscured by fans, from left, the Skyline High, R-MA, and Warren County High bands get the crowd ready for the ceremony with some military and national-themed music.

Kaplan recalled the time and date in 1918 when the Armistice ending World War I went into effect – the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The celebration of that war’s end began the following year as Armistice Day. “The war to end all wars” Kaplan reminded us the experience of that “world war” was to be after giving humanity its first glimpse of war with a full array of modern weaponry, from military warplanes to tanks and artillery, poison gases, and newer generation automatic weapons that reduced infantry advancement into mass slaughter events.

“Ironic,” Kaplan noted that 103 years later soldiers are still deployed and nations around the world continue to choose war and lies over diplomacy and mutual respect. So, in 1954 in the U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the holiday’s name to Veterans Day to commemorate the service of all U.S. veterans of all war fronts the nation has experienced.

Kaplan acknowledged the connection of veterans across generations and wars, as well as the brotherhood of those who go into combat together. Noting that November 11 was also his birthday, Kaplan said that upon his experience in Afghanistan, November 11th has “always been about my fellow veterans”.

From center left, Brit native and RAF vet Malcolm Barr Sr., with Husky Diva representing the military dogs trained for war duty, and U.S. military vet Skip Rogers and wife Kathy. Skip runs Able Forces, a veterans assistance program based in Front Royal. Malcolm and Skip attracted the Royal Examiner camera with their Nation to Nation salute near the end of the Veterans Day ceremony.

And acknowledging the struggles some vets have in the wake of their service, Kaplan made an emotional plea on behalf of those facing that internal battle, a battle often fought alone. “There are times when life will get hard. They may be times when you want to quit. Just give me one more day if you’re fighting demons internally … Turmoil can be a chapter in your life but it doesn’t have to define you … our nation still needs you, your families need you,” Kaplan said, pointing to the brotherhood of veterans.

“If you need help you have the rest of the veteran family. Just give me one more day. Tomorrow will come. Come talk to any of us, we’ll be there to walk with you … We’re much stronger together,” he concluded.

An acknowledgement of Gold Star mothers was made, though none were present.

Kaplan then introduced guest speaker Charles Mills. Mills addressed the changing nature of the battlefield during the American-Soviet “Cold War” of the Post-World War II nuclear age at the time of his service. He noted the global nature of the two “superpowers” maneuvering for political influence, but observing how Europe was a focal point for that maneuvering while he was stationed there.

Guest speaker Charles Mills recalled his service in Europe during the U.S.-Soviet Cold War in the 1960s when some U.S. military leaders believed a lead in development of battlefield tactical nuclear weapons offered an advantage to be pursued – in Europe and perhaps Cuba. Below, some viewers who looked up might have thought they missed something – does that tower clock say 12:15? Oh, the courthouse is still on Daylight Savings Time.

See related interviews of participants, observers, and all the comments, music, and ceremony in honor of our veterans in the exclusive Royal Examiner video.

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Saluting the Brave

How much do you know about Veterans Day?



One way to honor those who’ve served in the armed forces is to learn about Veterans Days and the people it commemorates. Here’s a quick quiz to see if you know your stuff.

  1. What was Veterans Day referred to before the name was changed in 1954?
    1. Armistice Day
    2. Memorial Day
    3. Flag Day
    4. Remembrance Day
  2. How many American veterans are alive in the United States today?
    1. 6 million
    2. 10 million
    3. 15 million
    4. 18 million
  3. Where is the tomb of the unknown soldier located?
    1. Washington, D.C.
    2. Arlington, Virginia
    3. Emmitsburg, Maryland
    4. Emporia, Kansas
  4. What flower is a symbol of Veterans Day?
    1. Lily
    2. Daffodil
    3. Cornflower
    4. Poppy
  5. How many Americans served in WWI and WWII combined?
    1. 5 million
    2. 10 million
    3. 20 million
    4. 30 million
  6. Which of the following is not a branch of the U.S. military?
    1. Marine Corps
    2. Air Force
    3. Coast Guard
    4. All are part of the military
  7. When on November 11 are you supposed to observe two minutes of silence?
    1. 9 a.m.
    2. 10 a.m.
    3. 11 a.m.
    4. 12 a.m.

How to learn more:
Do you want to know more about American veterans and the extraordinary sacrifices they made? This Veterans Day, consider speaking with someone who served, visiting a war museum, or reading a book about American military history.

1-A,  2-D,  3-B,  4-D,  5-C,  6-D,  7-C

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Saluting the Brave

5 meaningful ways to celebrate Veterans Day



If you’re wondering how you can best honor those who served their country on Veterans Day, here are five ways you can mark the occasion on November 11.

1. Observe two minutes of silence
All Americans are encouraged to pause for two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. on Veterans Day. This is a time to reflect on the contributions and sacrifices of all U.S. veterans.

2. Connect with a veteran
Make the time to speak with a veteran about their experiences in the military. Alternatively, you can send a veteran a postcard or e-card to thank them for their service. If you don’t know a veteran, you can send a card or letter through organizations such as A Million Thanks.

3. Make a donation or volunteer
More than 40,000 charities in the United States support veterans and their families including Fisher House Foundation, Homes for our Troops, and Disabled American Veterans. Many of these organizations have volunteer opportunities.

4. Shop at a veteran-owned business
Help veterans and their families support themselves by patronizing a veteran-owned business. If you don’t know of any, you can search for one in your area at

5. Learn about military history
To better appreciate the sacrifices American veterans made, learn more about the important battles in which they fought. You can do this by reading a book or watching a movie about military history.

Keep in mind that you can do most of these things year-round. To make a meaningful impact on the veterans in your community, continue to support and connect with them even after Veterans Day is over.

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Saluting the Brave

5 ways to celebrate Veterans Day



November 11 is Veterans Day, an occasion to honor all veterans, past and present. It was first commemorated 100 years ago, in 1921, when an unknown American soldier was buried in the Arlington National Cemetery. Every year, a ceremony is held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to remember those who fell in battle. Here are five ways you can celebrate Veterans Day.

1. Visit a local Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital
See if the VA hospital in your area needs volunteers this Veterans Day. Ask if you can spend some time visiting a veteran in need.

2. Shop at a veteran-owned business
Support the men and women who fought for our country. There are more than 2.5 million businesses owned by veterans in the United States. Your local chamber of commerce will be able to provide you with an up-to-date list.

3. Make a care package
This is a great way to show your support for troops stationed overseas. The care package you make can be for a loved one or someone you’ve never met. Include lots of practical items like soap, toothpaste, and sunscreen, as well as luxury items like reading materials, board games, and batteries.

4. Observe two minutes of silence
Take two minutes to pause and reflect on the courage and sacrifice of all veterans. You can observe this moment collectively with the rest of the country at 2:11 p.m. eastern standard time.

5. Participate in the #BeThere campaign
Help raise awareness about suicide in veterans and encourage people to connect with those who’ve served. Start a conversation about suicide, share resources, and be there for the veterans in your life.

Celebrating Veterans Day is a great way to show your respect for those who risked their lives to keep Americans everywhere safe. This year, take the time to demonstrate your appreciation for our nation’s veterans.

Join us at the Warren County Courthouse on November 11th at 11 am for our local ceremony. 

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Saluting the Brave

Once a Marine, always a Marine: Veterans Day is a day to remember



Note: This story was first published on November 8, 2019.

We received this email from Will Carroll at Quality Title in Front Royal. He asked, “Do you have your Veterans Day story for the Examiner?

“If not, I have one you maybe interested in covering. A Marine friend of mine runs Veterans Fishing Adventure in Alexandria, VA, and he is taking a retired Gunny out for a fishing trip this Sunday, which is the Marine Corp’s birthday. He does this day-in and day-out for veterans of all branches. This one happens to be special, because he is a retired Gunny and it’s the Marine Corp’s birthday. My friend has the local police and fire departments to give the recipient an escort, and this time bag pipes are going to play the Marine Hymn. He also managed to get a personal letter from the current Commandant of the Marine Corps to the recipient which will be read and given to the Gunny.”

Veterans Fishing Adventure would like to invite everyone to meet Retired GySgt Darrell Stiles, USMC. Gunny Stiles is in the final stages of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). He is able to communicate by blinking and smiling. Please join them at Pohick Bay Park (6501 Pohick Bay Dr, Lorton, VA 22079) on November 10th (Marine Corp’s Birthday) at 11AM. They will be celebrating this Marine and all of his years of dedication to our country and Corp.

The Veterans Fishing Adventure’s vessel is wheelchair accessible. Photo courtesy of Veterans Fishing Adventures.

Veterans Fishing Adventure was started by a Marine and his daughter. They offer Veterans and their families fishing and boating trips on the Potomac River in Fairfax, VA, and Occoquan River in Lorton, VA. 

They are a 100% volunteer organization and proud to offer this opportunity at no cost to those that have served our country proudly to enjoy a favorite pastime. They specialize in offering those veterans with physical limitation (wheelchair) an opportunity to participate, and allow members of the US armed forces that are disabled to take their children fishing.

For more information about the organization, or to inquire about a trip, please email us at

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Saluting the Brave

Front Royal veteran Philip Funk recalls his World War II service



Note: This story was first published on May 27, 2018. Mr. Funk passed away on December 20, 2018 at the age of 98.

Memorial Day is chiefly a time when Americans unofficially welcome the beginning of summer, but it is also a time to  honor and remember  those who served our nation.

For Front Royal resident and WW II veteran Philip Funk, it is a time to reflect back the time he served in New Guinea and the Philippines. Mr. Funk  was preparing to leave for Japan when the nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He spoke to Royal Examiner about his service during World War II.  We let the camera roll as Philip told his story. Sit back and enjoy almost 2 hours of a conversation with Philip “Pop” Funk:

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Upcoming Events

5:30 pm Free Holiday Meal @ Trinity Lutheran Church
Free Holiday Meal @ Trinity Lutheran Church
Dec 6 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Free Holiday Meal @ Trinity Lutheran Church
If one has read the Surgeon General’s 2023 report on America’s epidemic of loneliness and crisis of disconnection, one can then understand the significance that a Holiday Meal can have on the community at large. [...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 6 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
8:00 am Breakfast with Santa @ Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department
Breakfast with Santa @ Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department
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Breakfast with Santa @ Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department
Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department is having a Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, December 9th, from 8:00 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. Adults are $10.00 Kids are $5.00 Children 5 and under are free!
12:00 pm Christmas Lunch for Kids, Vets a... @ Front Royal Elks Lodge
Christmas Lunch for Kids, Vets a... @ Front Royal Elks Lodge
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Christmas Lunch for Kids, Vets and Seniors @ Front Royal Elks Lodge
The Front Royal Elks Lodge will hold it’s annual Holiday Lunch for Kids, Veterans and Seniors on Saturday, December 9. Festivities will begin at 12 noon. Mr. and Mrs. Clause are said to be coming!
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Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
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Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Discover our International Dark-Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA’s Jet Propulsion[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 13 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
10:00 am 10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 16 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Journey back in time and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of a Civil War Encampment during the holidays. Interact with the 10th VA Infantry, also known as the Valley Guards,[...]
1:00 pm The Nutcracker @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker @ Skyline High School
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The Nutcracker @ Skyline High School
Italia Performing Arts is pleased to announce its own student production of The Nutcracker, a Christmas classic to be enjoyed by the whole family! When: Saturday, December 16th at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM Where:[...]