The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Memorial at KG landfill is scheduled
By CATHY DYSON
On a Sunday afternoon in late September, residents will gather at an unusual place to pay respects to those whose remains were treated in a most disrespectful way.
They won’t assemble at a cemetery or on a courthouse lawn, but at the King George County Landfill.
Among the flagpoles at the entrance, the group will dedicate a bronze plaque in honor of service members who were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq—then had some of their partial remains incinerated like medical waste and dumped into the landfill.
At 4 p.m. Sept. 23, residents and county officials will unveil the memorial to the fallen. It reads: “For honor, respect and in memory of those American service members, known but to God, who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We are ever grateful. The citizens of King George County and a grateful nation.”
The memorial was approved last month by King George supervisors, who own the landfill property. It’s being organized by a grass-roots committee that includes resident Richard Lorey and Supervisor Ruby Brabo.
Brabo got the idea started in February. That was soon after reports that fragments and partial remains of at least 274 service members were disposed of with medical waste and dumped in King George, according to a letter from Dover Air Force Base.
Lorey picked up the campaign and solicited donations from local groups. He ended up hearing from people across the country, solely through word of mouth and Internet links.
Lorey had planned to erect a 2- by 2-foot bronze plaque and had enough donations to cover it.
But because the memorial will be placed at the entrance to the landfill, it needs to be bigger to be seen from a distance, Lorey said.
He’s started collecting donations again, for a 3- by 3-foot plaque. Gari–Lynn Smith of New Jersey plans to attend the dedication. She’s the widow whose quest to find out what happened to portions of her husband’s remains led to the discovery of the disturbing treatment.
In a March story in The Free Lance–Star, Smith said she would like to be able to remember her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Scott R. Smith, for his smile and goodness, his laugh and love.
Instead, her memories end up at a landfill.
“I think that those who took it upon themselves to bring some recognition to this site shows there’s still good left in a world that often times seems to be filled with negativity,” she emailed last month. “These people have shown to a degree his sacrifice meant something to perfect strangers.”
The guest speaker at the dedication ceremony will be retired Army Capt. Leslie Smith, a Dahlgren resident who works with the Wounded Warrior Project. While deployed to Bosnia in 2001, she developed a blood clot in her leg and blood infection so serious that her leg was amputated at the knee.
Smith also has suffered severe vision loss since then and is legally blind. Still, she visits medical facilities around the country, encouraging other amputees to overcome physical challenges through athletics, as she’s done.
Smith has completed four marathons and participated in a triathlon. She recently was honorary grand marshal of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in her hometown of Winchester.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
HOW TO HELP
Donations to the memorial at the King George Landfill can be made out to American Legion Post 89 and mailed to King George Memorial Fund c/o Rich Lorey, 11284 Shady Lane, King George, Va. 22485.