Virginia War Memorial officials want to collect veterans’ stories

Every veteran has a story to tell. That’s how representatives from the Virginia War Memorial (VWM) in Richmond feel. And coming up this Sunday, they want to hear from veterans in Charlotte County and surrounding areas. 

“No matter what branch of service; no matter if you served two years or 20; no matter if you served during wartime or peacetime; no matter if you served down the road or all over the world,” said VWM officials in a statement. “Help us preserve these stories for future generations.” 

That’s what’s happening Sunday. In neighboring Lunenburg County, VWM officials will be at the Kenbridge Town Hall auditorium. It’s part of an ongoing project with the group. They travel to different parts of the Commonwealth and hear firsthand accounts of service. Those discussions get recorded and used to help fully build out their permanent collection, detailing Virginia’s role in the U.S. military. As the statement said, they’re not just looking for wartime soldiers who fought in battles. They want to hear it all, everything from the soldier who just got out of basic training to the 30-year veteran who has seen it all in his or her time. 

Now Sunday’s event, which begins at 2:30 p.m., isn’t just about conversations. First, the veterans and their families will hear from VWM officials about their project, the work they’ve been doing. After that, they’ll start having discussions with any veteran who wants to take part. 

Virginia War Memorial offers help 

And beyond a permanent collection in Richmond, the stories help the VWM officials provide help for teachers. Often, teachers don’t include local or regional ties to events because no one knows about the connection. But through help from the VWM, teachers can take these stories and provide material that localizes certain events. That way, the teachers can share stories they might not know existed, about Charlotte natives who fought in specific battles or did certain things while in service. 

“We inspire love of country by sharing the stories of Virginia veterans,” said Pam Seay, president of the Virginia War Memorial Foundation. 

Educator and Daughters of the American Revolution member Melanie Hatchell said she discovered this idea while looking for classes to take for teacher recertification. The programs designed by the War Memorial staff were so interesting and informative, she said, Hatchell has stayed in touch so she can be notified of any new material they’re offering. 

And that’s part of what Sunday’s event offers. Sponsored by the William Taylor chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, it’s not just for veterans. It’s for teachers, for administrators to come and also hear what the War Memorial staff is working on. And in turn, the goal is for everyone to walk away with some benefit. 

Where and when will this be? 

So, to sum it up again, this is taking place starting at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 7 at the Kenbridge Town Hall. Some of you may be more familiar with it as the old Kenbridge High School. That’s located at 511 E. 5th Avenue in Kenbridge. Everyone is invited to come. 

“Through the stories of those who served, the War Memorial honors Virginia’s veterans and preserves the past,” said Linda Bagley. She serves as Regent of the William Taylor chapter of DAR. “It also educates and inspires for the future.”