The Rock Club

Black vets honored for service

Voices rang out in song Sunday at Second New Hope Baptist Church to honor 13 African-American veterans from Spotsylvania County.

This is the seventh year the Spotsylvania church has honored members of the community as part of its Black History Month celebrations.

This year's theme was "Look Where the Lord Hath Brought Us From."

On hand as guest speaker was U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, who recognized each veteran for their service. The veterans were selected by members of the Spotsylvania Sunday School Union. They had served in World War II, Korea or Vietnam.

The honorees were William Taylor, Benjamin Fletcher, James Rubin, Lewis Terrell, Stanley Moss Jr., Sam Fairchild, Booker T. Ross (deceased), Frank Henry Cole, David Duncan Sr., Sam Parker, Lewis Rollins, Layton Fairchild Sr., Paul Lewis and Percy Lewis.

Speakers recalled the time when blacks could not serve in the military and expressed gratitude to all those who served their country.

Warner recalled that during his first year as governor, he took a walk with his young daughter and she noted that there were only statues of old white men and none of Rosa Parks.

Warner later helped see to it that a statue of Barbara Johns, a leader in the civil rights movement from Prince Edward County, was erected near the Governor's Mansion. He said its location means that all governors will walk past it as they enter and leave the mansion.

"It reminds us that while we have come a long way, we have a long way to go," he said.

Other speakers included Spotsylvania Schools Superintendent Scott Baker, Cleo Coleman of the Sunday School Union, and several local pastors.

Coleman expressed gratitude to the veterans in attendance and reflected on the origins of Black History Month, when it was just a weeklong celebration.

The Courtland High School choir sang "America the Beautiful," as well as a song for each branch of the military as a tribute to the veterans, which brought the veterans of their respective branches to their feet.

The Mount Zion Baptist Church choir sang several times throughout the service as attendees clapped, sang along and danced to the music.

Also made reference to was Spotsylvania County's John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center. The museum has an exhibit about the history of educating black children in Spotsylvania.

The 23rd Infantry Colored Troops opened and closed the event. The 23rd, a contingent of the Union Army, was the first black regiment to fight in directed combat against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413



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