Historic Yorktown church honors past and present veterans

York County

YORKTOWN, Va. (WAVY) — A historic Yorktown church spent Veterans Day honoring its service members from the past and present.

Grace Episcopal Church was built in 1697.

For about 20 years, the community has come together at its cemetery to read the names of those veterans buried there.

“It’s just a bit of history that’s part of the church. This is what we’ve been doing and we’ve been doing it for over 20 years. We have to always remember and not forget,” said parishioner Kathy Fisher Michaels.

Michaels and others attended a church service which was followed by a veteran name reading and bell ringing.

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It’s a program that’s near and dear to her heart. Michaels’ father served in the U.S. Army and then worked as a civilian worker. She also worked as a civilan worker for the Army and currently runs the database for the church as to where the veterans are buried.

“It brings to mind all of the people who have served our country and are continuing to serve. On Sunday, we had a Thanksgiving basket we passed around,” she said. “I put money in for the 22 family members in my immediate family who have served. We’ve had marines, sailors, and soliders. It’s been an important project for me.”

It’s also important to Tom Richard, who reads the flag toast each year.

Richard served in the Air Force for four years.

“I joined the Air Force shortly after Kennedy was killed just thinking about what he said about serving your country so I chose to join the Air Force,” Richmond said.

Richmond says he never misses the event and hopes others take away the importance and sacrifice veterans have given for our country.

“Today, we’re honoring the veterans who are buried here especially in this time when so many Americans are denying their country. It’s good to think about the people who served the country. Some gave their all for the country. This is our way of saying thank you and we don’t forget,” he said.

Veterans at the church have fought in American conflicts dating back to before the Revolutionary War.

“This church has been here since the 1600s and it’s such an honor and privilege to sit in these pews our ancestors sat in. It’s just such a community who have passed and current that we share a fellowship with,” said Sandy Armstrong, who is a trustee for the church. “I love that. We are also blessed to have our own cemetery. Not many churches have that today. This is a special project we do to honor those who have gone before.”

The military also runs in Armstrong’s family.

“There’s a lot of emotions with Veterans Day,” said Armstrong, who is also a master shipbuilder. “My daddy was in the Navy. My late husband was in the Army and my current husband was in the Air Force. I’m sort of a military brat even though I wasn’t born into it. To me, it’s just respect and memory and things we do for the people we love.”

Grace Episcopal is celebrating its 325th anniversary next year.

They also hold a ceremony on Memorial Day.

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