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‘Freedom is not free’

Navy veteran Franklin “Buddy” Wyker of Urbanna salutes as the St. Clare Walker Middle School Band plays “Anchors Aweigh.” See the full Veteran’s Day tribute video at

by Tom Chillemi

Patriots paused for a Veterans Day Celebration held on Monday, November 12, in Saluda. At 11 a.m. they gathered at the historic Middlesex Courthouse to reflect on the dedication of men and women who have served America in the six branches of armed service.

“We are free today for the work that you have done,” said keynote speaker Major General (Retired) Michael H. Sumrall.

General Sumrall said when he was serving in Iraq he asked an enlisted man what his job was. “I’m just a cook,” came the reply. General Sumrall took him aside and told him. “Son, three times a day, I’m glad you are a cook.”

General Sumrall shared this story to illustrate his point that the military is a team. “That cook is just as important as the general that is leading the troops,” he said.

Veterans Day is a time to remember the cost of liberty.

“When you see a veteran, instead of just saying, ‘Thanks for your service,’ take a little extra time and let that person know how much you appreciate what they did for the country,” said General Sumrall.

General Sumrall took time to recognize veterans that were in attendance. Urbanna resident Tony Robusto, a World War II veteran, was given a hat that reads “Freedom Is Not Free.”

General Sumrall also thanked Locust Hill native Benjamin Beverley, who served in the Vietnam War. “They fought in a war that was not very popular but they did one hell of a job,” said the General.

General Sumrall recognized Lewis Briggs of Locust Hill, who was awarded the Bronze Star for service in the Vietnam War, by giving him a commemorative coin.

Jeff Payne received a shirt from General Sumrall that read, “Don’t mess with somebody who is willing to die in combat.” Payne served in the Army from 1980-2003.

Rev. Gene Cumbia, who gave the invocation, was also recognized.

Middlesex Board of Supervisors chair Mark E. “Chip” Holt III was the emcee. 

Also recognized was American Legion Post 82 Commander Millie Hampton, and American Legion Post 241 Commander William Bagby.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newsstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 11.14.2018

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