Highway dedicated to veterans

Published 10:46 am Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Members of the community, state officials and representatives of the county and state Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) honored the lives of the seven Charlotte County residents and all veterans of the Vietnam War during a dedication of Highway 47, Thursday.

The highway, outside the Town of Drakes Branch, was temporarily blocked as a crowd of people, many in uniform, took part in the dedication at approximately 11 a.m.

The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution in September 2017 to name the highway to honor people who served in the Vietnam War, including seven people who died during the war who lived in Charlotte County.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8902 Quartermaster Garland “Butch” Hamlett said following the dedication the event was meaningful to both area veterans and their families. “I think it was very nice,” Hamlett said about the dedication. “Long overdue.” He said the highway marker, provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will serve as a needed reminder to those passing by of the services and sacrifices made by veterans of Vietnam.

In attendance were members of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors, Drakes Branch Mayor Denise Pridgen, Sen. Frank Ruff and Del. James Edmunds. The dedication also brought members of surrounding counties VFW Posts, including those from Lunenburg and Buckingham counties.

Retired Sgt. Maj. Douglas Randolph, of Charlotte County, said the memorial was a long time coming in honoring veterans. He noted that he and fellow veterans who returned from Vietnam following the war were not treated well.

“When we came back, we were told in the airport ‘don’t wear your uniform outside,’” Randolph said, noting potential hostility from the public. “After all that’s been done, for America I’d still do it again,” Randolph said.

David Stokes, president of the Stanley E. Taylor Memorial Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, said he worked with Hamlett in the past and was excited to see the community rally around the dedication.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Stokes said. “We’re getting the recognition from the state, but it’s at the cost of somebody giving up their life.”