Chesterfield County elementary school students made 450 clay poppies that were planted in the lawn of the old Chesterfield Courthouse for a special ceremony Sunday, Nov. 11, symbolizing the significance of this Veterans Day.
One hundred years ago, on Nov. 11, 1918, the Armistice was signed to mark the end of World War I “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.”
At the WWI Centennial and Veterans Day Commemoration, those who attended honored the 450 Chesterfield residents who served in WWI and also paid tribute to 19 of those residents who died in that war, as a choir sang, “In Flanders field, the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row…”
Chesterfield County resident Tommy Sammons said there was no way he would have missed the event. “Our veterans served so we can do what we’re doing today,” he said. “I’ve been overseas, and there’s no place like the USA.”
Purple Heart recipient Herb Delbridge of Hanover County, who was a platoon sergeant in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, came to the Chesterfield County ceremony to honor his friends who were killed in action.
“It’s pure hell when you listen to bullets whistling by your head,” Delbridge said. “I was shot twice out there. We faced death every morning. I’m here to give thanks to our veterans.”
The master of ceremonies, retired Marine Corps Major Don Kappel, read a poem in remembrance of fallen soldiers, “When you go home, tell them of us and say: ‘For your tomorrow, we gave our today.’”
Banners with the photographs of Chesterfield County’s fallen heroes from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were presented as many in the crowd watched the solemn ceremony with tears flowing down.
Dozens of young men and women, many from Fort Lee, attended the event in which the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia and Chesterfield Board of Supervisors unveiled a new World War I interpretive sign.
In addition, a WWI exhibit opened at the Chesterfield County Museum.