Spotsy School News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County schools. You can email him at

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Moving Memorial Day event at Riverbend

UPDATE: It appears some readers may be having trouble finding the lists of the fallen. Here are links to the list of Spotsylvania residents killed in combat between World War I and the Vietnam War and a list of local military personnel killed in the war on terror.

I attended Spotsylvania County’s Memorial Day ceremony at Riverbend High School this afternoon.

It was a moving experience for the families there who have lost a loved one in the Global War on Terror. They were honored as were those who survived combat but are still battling their injuries.

The CHCORI JROTC and scouts from Troop 835 planned the event and were there in uniform yesterday.

Organizers showed the HBO film, “Taking Chance.” I had never seen the film before, and as I watched, Ithought it would be awfully hard for the loved ones to see, especially those present who had lost a child. They conveyed to me afterward that it was hard but they were pleased by the honor that is shown to fallen service members after they have given their lives for the country.

Back in 2004, when I was covering the Quantico Marine base, I interviewed Lt. Col. Mike Strobl not long after he returned from escorting Pfc. Chance Phelps to his final resting place in Wyoming. Phelps is the young man the film is named for. At that point, Strobl had just written his journal about the experience and shared it with me. I read it, was impressed with it and talked with my editor about taking a different approach with it. Given the powerful and detailed writing, we decided it made more sense to run the journal than to report about it. We did that-in a combination of print and online versions-and I was pleased for him when it became a movie.

Strobl’s journal was impressive in 2004. I hadn’t seen the movie until yesterday, but I was equally impressed with it. It’s a powerful story from many angles. It also shines a positive light on the people of this country, revealing their compassion and sensitivity. I encourage you to see it this Memorial Day or any day.

You can see my report in tomorrow’s Free Lance-Star.

We’ll also be running a list of the names of people from this region killed in the war on terror and a list of Spotsylvanians killed in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.