YORKTOWN, Va. (WAVY) – A historic church in Yorktown honored both past and present veterans in its congregation this Veterans Day.
Grace Episcopal Church was founded in 1632 and still has an active church to this day.
Monday morning, many gathered inside the chapel to reflect and pray for veterans and their families.
After, they went to 96 graves in the church graveyard to replace flags for the veterans buried there.
Al Crane Jr., who served in the U.S. Air Force, said they started the tradition 20 years ago to help keep history and the veterans’ memories alive.
“It’s not about the thank-yous. It’s not about the sales. It’s not about who went where, but it’s about the men and women who went before us and those who are serving today and those who will come,” he said.
Crane says those who are buried in the graveyard have service dates back to the Revolutionary War and many of the American conflicts that followed.
“Col. George Reed, Thomas Nelson Jr., one of the signatures on the Declaration of Independence, and a number of wars since then: the Civil War, the Filipino Insurrection, World War I and II, the Cold War, Korea and Vietnam,” he said.
Those 96 graves include Donald Washburn, who helped Crane with the ceremony for years before he died in 2016.
Washburn’s son, Patrick, who is also a veteran, helped with the event by calling out each of the 96 names.
“It’s important. At one time, they were a person just like you and I, no different. Same feelings, same hopes, same values. Someone loved them. They loved somebody else. They just … they chose to put themselves in harm’s way so other people wouldn’t have to. So, reading their names in the least, the least I could do is just acknowledge they existed and they served,” he said.