RICHMOND, Va. -- Nearly 1,000 people attended the 61st Memorial Day ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond as veterans, families and neighbors came to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The keynote speaker, Major General Tim Williams from the Virginia National Guard, explained how important the war memorial has been to him and his family.
He noted the 11,771 Virginians killed while serving in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf and the "War on Terror" are honored at the memorial.
Williams said he hopes the memorial can bring peace to those who have lost loved ones and be a place of reflection for others.
Paul Galanti, a Vietnam veteran who was a prisoner of war for six and a half years, said everything good about our country was on display during Monday’s service.
"I got to spend 2,432 days in communist prison thinking about what Memorial Day means, what serving a country means,” Galanti said. “People mean well when they say, 'Thank you for your service,' but that's a little trite because they really don't know what it is. All these guys in the funny hats, every one of them has done stuff that most Americans can't even dream of."
The Paul and Phyllis Galanti Education Center at the memorial is named after him and his late wife.
Another Army veteran, Jay Ipson, was rescued from a holocaust concentration camp and attended the ceremony to thank the American military.
"We got to remember those who gave everything...,” Ipson said. “Our military went to war and fight for a cause. To liberate people who are being killed for no other reason than their religion."
Two names were added to the memorial Monday.
Sgt. John McVey, a gunner in the Army Air Corps from Roanoke was, was killed in 1944. His name is now in the World War II shrine.
Scott Dayton, a Navy sailor from Woodbridge, was killed in Syria in November of 2016. His name was added to the Wall of Honor inside.