On a rain-soaked Wednesday, Alexandria had Americas veterans front and center in its thoughts, gathering publicly at events around the city and reflecting privately upon the nations guardians.
At Mount Vernon Recreation Center in Del Ray, where the weather pushed the 8th Annual Rocky Versace Plaza Veterans Day Ceremony indoors, dozens in attendance recognized the names of Alexandrias 67 fallen Vietnam War soldiers, including the ceremonys namesake, Army Capt. Humbert Roque Rocky Versace.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jack W. Nicholson (Ret.), who knew Versace for 10 years before the Alexandrians death in 1965, remembered Versace and also spoke of the U.S. militarys contributions around the globe.
After nearly two years as a prisoner of war, the Viet Cong executed Versace in September 1965. In 2002, he was granted a posthumous Medal of Honor. According to event organizers, six of the citys 67 fallen soldiers in the conflict are still considered prisoners of war or missing in action.
Another group of residents gathered at the Alexandria Black History Museum to honor American war veterans. About 60 people huddled into the lecture hall the events popularity placed a few others in the lobby for overflow seating to hear reflections on Veterans Day from U.S. Air Force Major and NAACP Alexandria Veterans Affairs Chair Alexis N. Stackhouse and other speakers tied to the military.
The audience then listened to U.S. Air Force Col. Charlie M. Johnson, the keynote speaker, talk about her success in the military that has led to her position as vice commander of the Air Force Legal Operations Agency, which carries out the responsibilities of the Air Forces criminal justice system.
Considered one of the foremost attorneys with the Department of Defense on Air Force matters, Johnson spoke about her rise through the ranks before giving her memorial message for Veterans Day.