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Veterans Day recalls service, sacrifice and a desire for peace



Above, local high school bands warmed the crowd up – WCHS and R-MA pictured, Skyline out of frame; below, as the WC Courthouse clock clicks toward 11 a.m., the R-MA Color Guard stands ready. See 10 more event photos at the end of story. Photos/Roger Bianchini

An impressive thing about Veterans Day services from year to year in Front Royal is the broad remembrance of its origin.  While 2017 veered from the norm of initiating that remembrance at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month minus one day due to that 11th day coming on Saturday, the emotions were no different.

If the public officials acknowledging our memory of personal sacrifice for a greater good change from year to year, the thought does not.  This year’s keynote speaker was Col. John C. Casserino of R-MA; John Kokernak acknowledged the POW’s and MIA’s; Front Royal’s incumbent Mayor Hollis Tharpe spoke; Haley Wills directed the E. Wilson Morrison Choir; R-MA provided the Color Guard; and the WCHS, Skyline and R-MA bands performed.

Other people and images remain constant from year to year – a Gold Star Mother Helen Seekford, bundled from the cold; chaplains asking for God’s blessing on those who have served and those who wait anxiously for their return; and the veterans themselves who’s crisp salutes and erect posture recall the duty and discipline of their service.

This year Shelley Remillard of the Post 53 Ladies Auxiliary’s invocation asked, as others have in other years, for Divine countenance on his humble creatures gathered, to evolve beyond a need for war as a solution to human disagreement.

Each year that I hear that plea for peace I am reminded why we traditionally celebrate what is now known as Veteran’s Day at 11 a.m. on 11-11 each year.  One year after World War I ended on that 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918, by Presidential Decree “Armistice Day” was created to recall the end of what was, perhaps naively at the time, thought by many to be the end of the “War That Would End All Wars”.

Why such a belief? – Because war, as brutal and far-reaching as it had been throughout recorded history, had never before seen such a face.  It was the face of modern technology – machine guns, tanks, airplanes and poison gas, meeting old-world fighting techniques of tightly-lined assaults into the teeth of enemy positions; a war where retreat was followed by the gas, the tanks, the bombs from the sky, and refuge was perilous at best.

The result was a carnage lasting just under five years that saw over 17 million killed, 7 million of those civilians; and another 20 million wounded across Europe.  Surely the human race had learned a lesson – that modern technology and war were incompatible with its survival.

But today, 99 years after the end of that war and 98 years after the first Armistice Day celebration, we know that hope appears to have been a futile one.  As Keynote Speakers often note of Veterans Day and its Armistice Day origin, “It celebrates peace; but as the ancient Greek philosophers said, ‘Only the dead see an end to war.’

And perhaps realization of that unhappy fact is why “Armistice Day” has evolved into “Veterans Day” since our collective experience is that 11-11-1918 did NOT mark the end of the war that would end all wars.

Giles B. Cook Legion Post 53 Commander Larry Funk again hosted our Front Royal-Warren County Veterans Day ceremony.  As Commander Funk has lamented in past ceremonies, many of our surviving veterans of the wars that have come since 1918 continue to deal with consequences of their wartime experiences.  He has urged us not to forget the large number of homeless veterans, as many as 67,000 have been cited on previous Veterans Days here; as well as unemployed vets.  Most tragically for those who have returned, Funk has pointed to as many as 20 veteran suicides a day in some yeas.

On a chill, windy but suddenly bright, sunny, mid-fall day in 2017, I found my thoughts drifting to the poem “In Flanders Fields”, referenced last year by then-Mayor Tim Darr.   The poem was written in May 1915 by Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae.  Its impetus is believed to have been McCrae’s conduct of the field burial service for Lieutenant Alexis Helmer in the absence of a company chaplain:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

It is my recollection that Veterans Day 2014 was the first cited without a veteran of World War I still alive.  And as then, again on November 11, I mean 10th, 2017, I found myself humming as I was thinkin’ on all this.  The melody and lyrics of a mid-1960s song penned by 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Bob Dylan began drifting into my mind.  So as last year in Royal Examiner’s coverage of Veterans Day, I think these Nobel Prize-contributing lyrics appropriate to conclude our annual tribute to our military veterans, past, present and future, with a still hopeful nod to its forbearer, Armistice Day:

With God On Our Side

Oh my name it is nothin’, my age it means less
The country I come from, is called the Midwest
I’s taught and brought up there, the laws to abide
And the land that I live in, has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it, they tell it so well; The cavalries charged, the Indians fell; The cavalries charged, the Indians died; Oh the country was young then, with God on its side

The Spanish-American, War had its day
And the Civil War too, was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes, I’s made to memorize
With guns on their hands, and God on their side.

The First World War, boys, it came and it went; The reason for fighting, I never did get; But I learned to accept it, accept it with pride; For you don’t count the dead, when God’s on your side.

When the Second World War came to an end
We forgave the Germans, and then we were friends
Though they murdered six million, in the ovens they fried
The Germans now too, have God on their side.

I’ve learned to hate the Russians, all through my whole life
If another war comes, it’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them, to run and to hide
And accept it all bravely, with God on my side.

But now we got weapons, of chemical dust
If fire them we’re forced to, then fire them we must
One push of the button, and the shot’s worldwide
And you never ask questions, when God’s on your side.

In a many dark hour, I’ve been thinkin’ about this,
That Jesus Christ, was betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you, you’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot, had God on his side

So now as I’m leavin’, I’m weary as hell
The confusion I’m feelin’, ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head, and fall to the floor
If God’s on our side, He’ll stop the next war.

A beautiful, if chilly fall Veterans Day in Front Royal

This 3-photo sequence shows the Colors being presented as Gold Star Mother Helen Seekford watches.

In the background, flags at half staff in front of the new Front Royal Town Hall as the ceremony begins; at center foreground, local Memorial Day event organizer Malcolm Barr Sr. brought his Husky Pola as a tribute to the role of the dogs of war.

Shelley Remillard of the Post 53 Ladies Auxiliary delivers the invocation.

The E. Wilson Morrison Choir under direction of Haley Wills.

Mayor Hollis Tharpe remembers the service and sacrifice of America’s soldiers.

With a remembrance of the nation’s POW’s and MIA’s in place on an empty chair in front of him, Giles B. Cook Post 53 Commander Larry Funk addresses the service of those who return and those who do not.

Veterans Randy Vaughan, left, and Danny Whitsell were among those to enjoy a post-ceremony luncheon at the Legion Post 53 headquarters following the 2017 Veterans Day ceremony. (We’d like to thank Post 53’s ‘Buster’ Ramos for his help in assembling information on this year’s event)

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Lord Fairfax Community College staff members win national award



LFCC instructional technologist Gannon Nordberg and instructional designer Erin Mills recently received the 2019 Award for Outstanding Support for Faculty or Students from the Instructional Technology Council (ITC). The award was presented during the ITC’s 2020 Annual Conference – eLearning.

Congratulations to Gannon Nordberg and Erin Mills as they receive the 2019 Award for Outstanding Support for Faculty or Students. Photo courtesy of LFCC

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Community Events

United States Navy Country Current plays concert February 21, 2020



US Navy Country Current plays at R-MA on February 21st at 7:30 pm in Boggs Chapel.

The 44th Annual Military School Band and Choir Festival will be held at Randolph-Macon Academy on February 21-23, bringing with it several events that are open to the public. After a full day of clinics and band auditions, the students will enjoy a concert performed by the U.S. Navy Band Country Current in Boggs Chapel. This concert, which takes place at 7:30 pm, is free and open to the public.

The United States Navy Band Country Current is the Navy’s premier country-bluegrass ensemble. The group is nationally renowned for its versatility and “eye-popping” musicianship, performing a blend of modern country music and cutting-edge bluegrass. This seven-member ensemble employs musicians from diverse backgrounds with extensive high-profile recording and touring experience in the music scenes of Nashville, Tenn., New York, New Orleans and more. In the tradition of country music, each member is a skilled performer on multiple instruments. The band utilizes banjo, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, fiddle, electric bass, upright bass, dobro, pedal steel guitar and drum set.

Formed in 1973, the band has a rich legacy of notable alumni including Bill Emerson, Wayne Taylor, Jerry Gilmore, and Frank Sollivan. They have performed at the Grand Ole Opry, for Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and overseas in Stockholm, Nova Scotia, and Beijing. With a fun-filled and family-friendly stage show, Country Current has been delighting its fans for over 40 years with their musical virtuosity and humor.

A staple of the bluegrass scene, Country Current has shared the stage with music luminaries Rhonda Vincent, Dailey and Vincent, Mountain Heart, Little Roy Lewis, Third Time Out, The Lonesome River Band, Josh Williams, The Seldom Scene, J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson, Ned Luberecki, Chris Jones and many others. Country Current routinely performs at bluegrass festivals such as Darrington, Windgap, Gettysburg, Lake Havasu, and Grass Valley. In 2011, Country Current became the first military band to perform at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.

Country Current performs regularly for the president, vice-president, the secretary of the Navy, the chief of naval operations, the chairman and vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff, the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy and numerous other dignitaries. Reaching out to communities both locally and nationally, they regularly perform for veterans, elementary schools, and in support of our active-duty Sailors.

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Open air fire causes wildfire, occupant charged



Photo / Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services

Just after 2:00 pm on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, Warren County Fire and Rescue units were dispatched to the 1800 block of Oregon Hollow Road for a reported brush fire which was threatening multiple structures.

Units quickly arrived on the scene to find approximately 3/4 of an acre of wooded area involved in fire with the fire spreading away from any structures. Firefighters were able to quickly control the blaze before any structures were damaged. It was determined that the fire was caused by an open air fire spreading to the wooded area when winds increased.

The occupant of the home where the fire started was issued a summons by the Virginia Department of Forestry for violation of VA Code 10.1-1142. The occupant faces being guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor and may be liable for the full amount of all expenses incurred in suppressing the fire.

This incident should serve as a reminder as to why the 4pm Burn Law is in effect between February 15th and April 30th.

Briefly, the 4pm Burn Law regulates the open air burning before 4pm and after midnight. This law was adopted to reduce the number of wildfires during this period of risk associated with weather conditions that include elevated winds, lower relative humidity, and dryer forest floor fuels.

For more information on the 4pm Burn Law, visit

Units on the call:

  • Engine 1
  • Brush 8
  • Brush 9
  • Brush 10
  • Tanker 3
  • Tanker 8
  • Tanker 9
  • Ambulance 4
  • Fire Marshal 1
  • Forest Warden 1 (Department of Forestry)
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The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution recognizes local volunteer Fire Department President



Bronze Fire Safety Commendation Medal awarded to Suzi Shiley, President of the Linden Volunteer Fire Department.

In December 2019, Dale Corey, of the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, presented Bronze Fire Safety Commendation Medal to Suzann (Suzi) Shiley, President of the Linden Volunteer Fire Department. Ms. Shiley was honored for her commitment to public service.

Ms. Shiley began as a volunteer with the department several years ago, as a way to give back to her community after her last child went away to college. The fire department quickly became a passion, and a commitment for excellence.

Over the past 18 months as President, she has addressed staffing requirements, and been fortunate to add 10 new members, fostered improved communications with the county, addressed financial, equipment, and building needs. She has trimmed down expenses whenever possible to maximize donation dollars.

Ms. Shiley has enhanced community outreach events such as the Santa Runs, Breakfast with Santa, Easter Bunny Breakfast, just a few that the community looks forward to each holiday season. Under her guidance, the department completed long standing projects, and is in the process of developing new ones to better serve the public. She acquired a lighted sign board, located at the front of the station to keep the community informed of upcoming needs and events.

Ms. Shiley has made a significant difference in a faltering unhappy organization, turning it into a growing positive environment in which all efforts by staff and volunteers are welcomed and recognized.

Upon receipt of the award, Ms. Shiley shared, “I am extremely proud of the progress of our department. Each volunteer has supported our goals, and has contributed many hours to reach them. It is truly a team effort. Their dedication, commitment, support and contributions make us a strong team. I am grateful for all we have achieved in 2019, and I look forward to all we will accomplish in 2020! On behalf of our organization, and all our volunteers, I wish to express my gratitude to the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution for this honor”.

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Maggie’s last shot



Maggie Acquaah, 2018-19 season.

Her senior year season of basketball did not go as planned for Randolph-Macon Academy’s Maggie Acquaah. Sidelined by a knee injury, she was forced to play a supporting role for her teammates when what she really wanted to do was be on the court.

On Wednesday, February 12, 2020, the R-MA Yellow Jackets faced off against cross-town rival Chelsea Academy. It was the last home game of the season, Senior Night, and the night before Maggie’s surgery. One by one, R-MA Head Coach Jeff Moxie put the seniors into the game, the home crowd cheering wildly over each one. But their cheers reached a new level when Maggie pulled off her warm-up shirt and went into the game with less than a minute left.

Coach Moxie had explained the situation to Dr. Mark Clark, the head coach of Chelsea Academy, who had in turn briefed his players. In a display of good sportsmanship, none of the Chelsea players challenged Maggie, knowing that one wrong move could cause her to further injure her knee and delay her surgery.

To the raucous cheers of her classmates, Maggie took an easy shot and uncharacteristically missed–because the normally stoic young lady was so moved by the events of the afternoon that tears were blurring her vision. She wiped her eyes and her teammates got the ball to her again, and once again the Chelsea players gave her space. Maggie took one more shot, and this one went in, giving the senior the final basket of the last regular-season home game. The crowd erupted.

The Yellow Jackets won easily and will now move into the DAC playoffs with a home game on Thursday, February 20th, but for this night, that wasn’t what mattered. What mattered was that thanks to the sportsmanship of another school and the support of her coach and teammates, Maggie got back a few precious seconds of the season that had been stolen from her, and a memory that will last forever.

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Front Royal Christian School Lady Warriors close season with win and Senior Night



Front Royal Christian School Lady Warriors defeated the Front Royal Lady Flames 54 to 16, with Audrey Moya as the leading scorer with 15 points. FRCS Seniors Bailey Coughenour, Hannah Fletcher, and Hannah Johnson ended their season strong on both offense and defense. Fletcher, Coughenour, and Johnson (pictured left to right) were presented framed jerseys from their high school career, as well as lettering for their season. FRCS Coach Scott Babcock and Athletic Director Robert Darrow congratulated the girls for a season well done and recognized their individual successes including all time personal high scoring records. The FRCS Lady Warriors ended their 2019-2020 Basketball season with a winning record of 7-3.

“The girls set the all-time winning record for the FRCS level basketball with 7 wins,” stated Babcock. “For not having a varsity program in five years, these ladies didn’t play like a team – they played like a family, supporting each other on and off the court. The credit for this season goes to the girls, their determination, faithfulness, and heart.”

FRCS athletics now turns to varsity girls soccer and baseball. This is the first year that FRCS will have a baseball team. “We are excited to bring baseball to the FRCS athletic program,” shared Darrow. “Interest in team participation is high, and it should start us off strong.” Practice begins for both soccer and baseball this week.

Front Royal Christian School is a Pre-K through 12th-grade school in Front Royal, Virginia, that fosters your student’s innate learning potential. From special needs to gifted, FRCS is committed to the spiritual, moral, and intellectual development of its students and mediates a sense of competence, confidence, and belonging. FRCS provides the 21st-century learner, exceptional and challenging educational experiences, including college preparatory courses with a dual enrollment program with LFCC, performing arts, life skills, and athletics. For more information, call the school at 540-635-6799 or visit

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Front Royal
06:5817:54 EST
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Wind: 9mph NW
Humidity: 22%
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Upcoming Events

2:00 pm Rotary Club Blood Drive @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Rotary Club Blood Drive @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Feb 19 @ 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Rotary Club Blood Drive @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
All are invited to the Rotary Club of the Shenandoah Valley (The Area ONE|ders) blood drive on Wednesday, February 19th, from 2pm-7pm, at the Front Royal United Methodist Church (1 W. Main St. Front Royal)[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 20 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20: Come in for some great stories, songs, and a craft about our feathered friends, Birds!  Siblings welcome. Wednesday, February[...]
3:00 pm Cancer Care Center Ribbon Cuttin... @ Fauquier Health Center for Cancer Care
Cancer Care Center Ribbon Cuttin... @ Fauquier Health Center for Cancer Care
Feb 20 @ 3:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Cancer Care Center Ribbon Cutting and Open House @ Fauquier Health Center for Cancer Care
Fauquier Health will celebrate the opening of its new freestanding Center for Cancer Care with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and community open house this week. The new 25,640-square-foot center and equipment upgrades were made possible by[...]
9:00 am Entrepreneurship Workshop @ Luray-Page County Center
Entrepreneurship Workshop @ Luray-Page County Center
Feb 21 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Entrepreneurship Workshop @ Luray-Page County Center
Are you considering independent, corporate, or social entrepreneurship, or being groomed to take over a family business? Then, this workshop is for you! Topics to be covered: Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur The Importance of[...]
10:00 am Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths @ Strokes of Creativity
Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 22 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths @ Strokes of Creativity
Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths In this beginner level class, you will learn some basic crochet stitches and pattern reading to make pretty dishcloths for your home. Instruction will be for right-handed crochet. Please pre-register!
11:00 am Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 22 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Art Stars is a special needs art discovery program. This program is for ages 8 and up. Registration begins January 22. Participants should have a caregiver or attendant present in the program.
12:30 pm Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 22 @ 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Crochet Workshop Do you have a crochet project you need a little help with? Already bought the supplies, but need help reading the pattern? All skill levels are invited to this Bring Your Own Project[...]
1:00 pm Discover love, adopt at Petco @ Petco
Discover love, adopt at Petco @ Petco
Feb 22 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Discover love, adopt at Petco @ Petco
Stop by Petco located at 2580 S Pleasant Valley Rd. on Saturday, February 22, between 1 and 4 PM. Meet the amazing Petco adoption team from the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke, learn more about[...]
1:00 pm Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Feb 22 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Moving Mindfully: Finding and keeping your footing @ Ruby Yoga
Join Ruby Yoga and Deborah Romero of Optimal Posture LLC for a series of workshops on moving more mindfully through life using the principles of yoga and the Alexander Technique. Slated for Saturday, Jan. 25,[...]
2:00 pm Magic Show @ Samuels Public Library
Magic Show @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 22 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Magic Show @ Samuels Public Library
Local magician Kevin Owens will entertain the whole family with his amazing magic show, which always includes audience participation and lots of laughter!