Category Archives: Virginia

Ku Klux Klan Recruits With Flyers in Shenandoah Valley

Word began circulating on Facebook Tuesday as Shenandoah Valley residents posted about Ku Klux Klan recruitment flyers showing up on vehicles up and down the Valley. In Waynesboro, Mt. Crawford, Staunton, Broadway, Winchester, and on Mary Baldwin University’s campus, the paper circulars were found tucked under windshield wipers.

The 336 area is North Carolina and includes the north-central, mainly Triad Piedmont, region of the state, as well as the northern foothills and mountain regions. I didn’t call it but a Facebook commenter reported that it went to a recorded message. A search online found this video from 2014 of a phone recording at that number.

The Winchester Star wrote earlier this month that the same thing happened in their city on Halloween. In Leesburg, as reported by WTOP, KKK literature was stuffed into baggies along with candy and left in yards on Halloween. Other localities have reported the same.

This morning The Recorder, the news source for Bath and Highland counties, posted on Facebook that they had received the flyer in the mail and had heard of readers finding them tossed out in baggies with birdseed. They were asking if others had received the recruitment circulars.

Seeing the hate-filled words is a reminder of the tiki torch march/alt-right rally in Charlottesville in August, just a few months ago, when a young woman was run down and killed by an alt-right march participant.

Just this week Rick Sincere posted a movie review of “Charlottesville: Our Streets” that premiered over the weekend at the Virginia Film Festival. The movie documents the violence that occurred in Charlottesville on that weekend just a few months ago, the clashes between alt-right members and other groups, and the tragic turn it took.

Background:

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

Shenandoah Mountain 5 Years Later: What Happened to Missing Hiker Bobby Fitzgerald?

Shenandoah Mountain / Confederate Breastworks Overlook on Rt. 250 along the Augusta County/Highland County line looks over the Appalachian Mountains in Highland.

What happened to Bobby Fitzgerald on that fateful day in November of 2012?

Traveling west from Staunton along Rt. 250 as it climbs up and over Shenandoah Mountain, I cannot help wondering what happened to Robert “Bobby” Fitzgerald, the Staunton hiker who went missing in that isolated part of western Virginia on November 11, 2012, and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Searches have turned up nothing. Some wonder about foul play. Others have questioned whether he fell into the steep ravines.

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Virginia Sales Tax Holiday Is August 4-6

Virginia’s sales tax holiday will take place this weekend, August 4-6, an opportunity to save a little while buying qualified products for back to school, emergency preparedness, and energy saving products.

From the Sales Tax Holiday website:

What items are eligible?

  • School supplies, clothing, and footwear 

    • Qualified school supplies – $20 or less per item
    • Qualified clothing and footwear – $100 or less per item
  • Hurricane and emergency preparedness products  

    • Portable generators – $1,000 or less per item
    • Gas-powered chainsaws – $350 or less per item
    • Chainsaw accessories – $60 or less per item
    • Other specified hurricane preparedness items – $60 or less per item
  • Energy Star™ and WaterSense™​ products 

    • Qualifying Energy Star™ or WaterSense™ products purchased for noncommercial home or personal use – $2,500 or less per item

The sales tax holiday ends Sunday at 11:59 p.m.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

First Day of Summer and Shrimping in South Carolina

Today is the first day of summer. As I enjoyed the morning breeze in the Shenandoah Valley, my mind drifted back to another first day of summer when my husband and I took our 16-month-old son and visited with friends who were living at the time in Charleston, S.C.

On June 21 during our stay, our friends took us out in their boat to explore Charleston Harbor and visit historical Fort Sumter on a small piece of land in the Atlantic Ocean. We spent the morning walking its pathways, exploring fortified areas, and absorbing the history of it all.

After leaving Fort Sumter, we pointed the boat toward the South Carolina coastline and made our way into one of the delta inlets for some shrimping, a great pastime for our friends, and something that was about to become a new experience for us.

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McCain Mourns, Says UVa Student ‘Murdered by the Kim Jong-un Regime’

The sadness I feel at this moment is nothing compared to how the parents of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier must be feeling after the death of their son Monday afternoon. A comatose Otto had been returned to the United States only a week ago.

His crime? Supposedly swiping a poster in a North Korean hotel, never proven.

His punishment? Death.

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‘One More Day’ … with Dad

It’s another Father’s Day without Dad. We lost him to cancer when he was 51, and so every time I hear Diamond Rio’s “One More Day,” it makes me ache for that kind, easy-going, quiet, simple man who taught Sunday School, was a deacon in our church, and chased us kids around the yard as pretended to be the big, bad wolf from the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale.

His was not the life of a high-powered CEO or politician or world traveler but he was the world to us. The oldest of five children growing up in Amelia County, he was a child of the Depression who quit school after eighth grade to help support his financially-strapped family before enlisting in the Navy as a teenager to serve during World War II. Trained as a gunner on the USS Wisconsin, he traveled to exotic places around the South Pacific while the world was at war and, when it ended, he came home to Virginia, settled in Richmond, married, and raised three daughters.

One of his joys throughout the years was traveling to southwest Virginia to attend the Galax Fiddler’s Convention to listen to hours of bluegrass music, a genre I didn’t fully appreciate until long after he was gone.

His other joy was camping in Shenandoah National Park. We could not afford pricey vacations so our parents took us to the mountains from the time we were very young where Dad was a naturalist before it became fashionable. He was mindful of those protected surroundings, teaching his girls to leave the flowers for others to enjoy, pack out our trash, be respectful of the animals who lived there, and most of all to enjoy the beauty that is Virginia.

Diamond Rio’s song sharpens the realization that if I could have just one more day with him, it would be sitting around a campfire in Shenandoah National Park as the sun lowered behind the Appalachians … one more time.

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‘The Eyes of the World Are Upon You’ … D-Day 73 Years Later

[Today marks 73 years since the D-Day invasion. A year ago the small community of Bedford, Virginia, commemorated the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord. Here are photos from that day (see also Part 2).]

DSCN1760 (2)“Fifty-seven years ago, America and the nations of Europe formed a bond that has never been broken. And all of us incurred a debt that can never be repaid. Today, as America dedicates our D-Day Memorial, we pray that our country will always be worthy of the courage that delivered us from evil and saved the free world.”
–President George W. Bush (at National D-Day Memorial dedication, June 6, 2001)

Monday, June 6, 2016, was a day for sights and sounds and memories and stories from some of the few remaining veterans who survived June 6, 1944. It was the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord — the allied invasion of Normandy, known as D-Day — that marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

Exiting the four-lane highway in Bedford and turning onto Overlord Drive, it is a quiet drive through open fields up the hill to a place of reverence and thankfulness. Surrounded by the peaceful Virginia countryside with the Blue Ridge Mountains, including Sharp Top and Flat Top mountains that form the Peaks of Otter in the distance, the National D-Day Memorial provides an opportunity to learn and reflect on a pivoting event in America’s — and the world’s — history.

The overwhelming extent of the sacrifices made as well as the huge operation that involved 150,000 Allied troops, 5,000 ships, 11,000 aircraft, and huge losses of more than 9,000 Allied soldier who died, including 2,499 American soldiers, in the largest amphibious landing the world has ever seen, was sobering. The liberation of Europe began that day and, though the war would continue for almost a year longer, the Normandy invasion gave Allied forces an opening to begin working their way across Europe to defeat Hitler.

Thankfully, the vision of D-Day veteran Bob Slaughter to have a national site to remember and honor those involved was achieved, and the National D-Day Memorial was dedicated on June 6th, 2001, by President George W. Bush.

My husband and I arrived early on Monday and stayed into the afternoon — attending the 11am ceremony, strolling the grounds, reading the historical plaques, and listening to the roll call of names. We left with a renewed appreciation for the Greatest Generation. Below are photos that capture a small part of the day. May we never forget.


Why Bedford for the national memorial? As explained in the video, the memorial is a reminder of the extreme sacrifice the small Virginia town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains made during the invasion on June 6, 1946. They lost more men per capita than any other location in America. Of the 30 Bedford soldiers in Company A, 19 perished that day and four others during the war. That sacrifice by the Bedford Boys was the reason their town was chosen as the site for the national memorial. For photos of the memorial’s tribute to the Bedford Boys, see 72 years later … the Bedford Boys.

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For the first time ever the roll call of the names of the 2,499 Americans killed on D-Day was read by volunteers whose voices could be heard  throughout the memorial’s grounds. The honoring of the fallen continued for three hours into the afternoon with names read by veterans, families, volunteers, and dignitaries.

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Hanger: Restoring the Shenandoah River and Chesapeake Bay Requires Collaboration

Guest Post by Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.

Successful restoration of the Chesapeake Bay is predicated on diverse interests working in partnership and at times putting aside differences to pursue common ground. From the first Bay agreement, the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the six watershed states, DC and the federal government have pledged to work together to reduce pollution flowing into our rivers and the Bay to restore its living resources.

News the federal government may now pull out of this effort and leave the work to the states, no longer providing technical and financial support, is cause for great concern. The collaborative structure of the Bay restoration partnership has meant the state governments and the federal government together share responsibilities.

The federal government’s role in this collaborative effort has proven essential to the successes to date. Their role includes coordinating complex decision-making, ensuring oversight and accountability, providing monitoring and modeling-based informational support, and offering financial grants to support state efforts.

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Virginia Soldier Died in Battle at Germany’s Siegfried Line

??????????[Editor’s Note: On March 21, 1945, the uncle I never knew was killed just six weeks before the end of World War II in Europe. He was 27 years old, my mother’s oldest brother. She was a student at Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Virginia, when her brother Clarence, the oldest of nine siblings, paid the ultimate sacrifice. She still remembers her mother’s reaction that fateful day when the official government car drove up the driveway of her parents’ Chesterfield County farm many decades ago, and how her mother’s knees buckled as she realized the presence of that car meant her son was not coming home. Mom says her mother, who lived into her 80s, never got over the loss.

After retiring from her job, Mom spent hours researching to fill the void of not knowing exactly what happened to her brother and, through her research, eventually found Clarence’s sergeant, Dock Roberts, living in Texas. Another soldier buddy, Emelio Albert, lived in California. She traveled to both places to talk with them to learn about her brother’s journey as a U.S. Army soldier through war-torn Europe, and his final hours, and she documented the treasured research for our family history. This is her story. I have edited and included links to more detailed historical accounts.]

Italian Campaign
The Italian Campaign was one of the most difficult of World War II. Some of the most exhausting battles for foot soldiers took place in Italy with its rugged mountains, and heavy snows in the winter of 1943 were followed by extensive cold rains in the late winter and spring of 1944. The ground turned into a quagmire and foxholes were filled with water. Mud was so deep it was nearly impassable for vehicles as well as men on foot. By the summer of 1944, the dry weather turned the earth to dust which swirled at the least disturbance. The Division veterans’ most vivid memories of the Italian fighting were the weather and terrain.

Clarence was sent from Virginia to the Texas National Guard as they replenished their ranks, and spent 15 months as a First Gunner in the Mortar Squad. Their Division played a big role in the war, joining other American forces in the liberation of the little town of San Pietro, located in southern Italy, from the Germans.

From there they battled their way to the Riviera in southern France, and onward to the northern border of France plus one day in Germany. Clarence was killed in the last great battle of the 36th Division of the 1st Battalion, Company D, 143rd Infantry Regiment of the Texas National Guard.
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Sunday Memorial Day Ceremony in Churchville To Honor Native Son

World War I Dough Boy tombstone for Russell Snyder, located in Green Hill Cemetery, Churchville, Virginia. Born Aug 30, 1892, died Oct 8, 1918. Pvt, 11 Co CAC, Fort Mott, Salem, NJ. The statue is extremely detailed and must have cost a great deal of money. Here is a better photo of the dough boy tombstone.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Will Bear in Churchville with an invitation to the Memorial Day observance on Sunday, May 28,  at Green Hill Cemetery. It is a local commemoration that is open to the public, and is a reminder of why we remember all fallen soldiers on Memorial Day.

A casualty of World War II, Winfield Liggett is buried in France but a headstone in Churchville is a reminder of this native son.

This year will feature a local family’s contribution to the world’s largest amphibious military operation to liberate World War II France. Winfield Liggett III was assigned to what would often be the lead company (of the lead battalion of the lead regiment) of the 29th Division offensive operations. Wounded in the Normandy invasions, he returned to France and later died in the intense fight for the port city of Brest.

Jimmy Kilbourne,  Executive Director of Staunton’s Stonewall Brigade 116th Infantry Regiment Foundation and Museum, has compiled his research about this Virginian to reveal the fascinating story of sacrifice for freedom.

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Memorial Day 2017 … Small Town Honors Fallen With Moment of Silence

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The annual Memorial Day tribute in front of our house from my Air Force Vietnam-era veteran husband.

On this Memorial Day weekend, a special memory comes to mind that epitomizes the meaning of the day.

It was Memorial Day in 2009 in the central Shenandoah Valley. My sister and I had made a last-minute trip to the local Food Lion in Staunton for a forgotten cookout item when now-retired manager Dan Pritchett’s voice came over the intercom at the Coalter Street store. In his soft southern voice, he addressed employees and customers:

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is Memorial Day. The store will shut down for the next 60 seconds as we observe a moment of silence in honor of America’s fallen heroes.”

Perhaps this is one of the things I love most about living in a small town.

Dan Pritchett

News Leader photo

It was 3:00 pm on Memorial Day, the time of the national moment of silence. The cashiers stopped checking out customers. Muzak was turned off. Customers paused in aisles while employees ceased working. The store was essentially shut down and for the next 60 seconds all observed a moment of silence for America’s fallen military heroes. Among those was an uncle I never knew, a casualty of battle in Germany just six weeks before the end of World War II in Europe.

Thanks to Mr. Pritchett, the small town of Staunton in western Virginia paused to remember … this town that is home to the Stonewall Brigade, the 116th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army National Guard, founded in 1741 and active during the Civil War, World War II, and most recently deployed to Bosnia, Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan … this community that turns out when troops deploy and return from battle.

It is also home to the Statler Brothers whose “More Than a Name on a Wall” is their own hauntingly poignant tribute to those who died for God and country, and returned home draped in the American flag: “She said, ‘Lord my boy was special and he meant so much to me. And oh I’d love to see him just one more time, you see. All I have are the memories and the moments to recall. So Lord could You tell him he’s more than a name on a wall.’ ”

Freedom is not free….

Staunton area community welcomed home the Stonewall Brigade in 2011 after deployment to Iraq.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

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It’s Spring … Get Your Hands In the Dirt Part 2

??????????Hands in the dirt … time to plant spring flowers and garden vegetables.

Dirt … spring planting sunshine … outdoors.

??????????Window box choices.

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??????????Lavender and rosemary.

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Get Your Hands in the Dirt

Plants from Milmont Nursery wait to be potted … Hanging baskets look skimpy now but will be overflowing in a couple of months …

Working in the potting shed under the deck …

Lawn furniture is in place along with the hammock for summer lounging …

Terra cotta pots wait for flowers….

Dirt … spring planting sunshine … outdoors.

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The Road Home is West Toward the Mountains and Setting Sun

I have a love affair with the mountains that began years ago. While driving the back country road toward home this evening, I snapped a photo of the setting sun behind the Appalachians west of Staunton, and smiled.

I love where I live.

Throughout the years there has been camping. Hiking. Picnicking. Leisurely drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. Snow skiing Wintergreen. Wading in creeks. Swimming in mountain lakes. Snowtubing at Massanutten. Sharing my mountain love with my children, and taking them to the places I knew as a child.

I never tire of the beauty, one of the lucky ones to live in the shadow of the Blue Ridge and Appalachians. And at the end of the day, I can rock on the porch or sit on the garden bench and look out over the sweet Virginia landscape, and be grateful for where I live.

My love affair with the mountains continues, and probably always will….

First Day of Spring 2017

The first day of Spring arrived at 6:29 this morning and, in Virginia, it comes after a lackluster winter that saw little snow and wildly fluctuating temperatures with plenty of spring-like days.

This first day of spring is brought to you by the animated spring equinox Google doodle. Click here to see the latest in a line of creative entertainment from the premiere search engine — but hurry because it will only be there one day — March 20, 2017.

Spring equinox marks the time of year when day and night are equal — 12 hours each — and then days become longer until the summer equinox on June 21. This year it offers the pleasing nugget of being on a Monday. Kind of take the edge off this first day of the week, doesn’t it….? Spring flowers, spring temperatures, spring sunshine, spring cleaning.

Enjoy spring!

Photo by Mark Robbins

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