Gar-Field Community

Remembers Its Heroes

On Thursday, Gar-Field Senior High School held a dedication ceremony for its new Fallen Heroes Memorial. This event was a quiet and sincere expression of gratitude to three young men who served our nation and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom. Their names are Marine Lance Cpl. Brian A. Medina, Army National Guard Spec. David Ruhren and Richard W. Yates.

Brian was a former student of mine. I have very fond memories of him and was so proud of him when he became a Marine. His father told of the heroic actions of his unit in Fallujah, Iraq, in November. They were so brave in the face of terrible danger. Brian was a courageous young man.

David, who was killed in Mosul, Iraq, in December, was remembered by his mother in a letter, in which she shared her memories of a sweet little boy who grew up to be a wonderful young man. Her remarks reminded me of my son, who is still just a baby. My heart aches for her loss.

Bill Willis, a Vietnam veteran and a science teacher at Gar-Field, spoke on behalf of Richard, who was killed in Vietnam in 1969. Mr. Willis told the story of how Richard, a naval medical corpsman, died while retrieving an injured soldier's medallion as he was being airlifted. It was moving to hear Mr. Willis pay tribute to a brother-in-arms from so many years ago. He reminded us all that it is never too late to say thank you.

As a lifelong resident of Prince William County and a Gar-Field graduate, I must commend Mr. Willis for his leadership in the creation of this wonderful remembrance of our local heroes. He is an inspiration to all educators who want to make a difference in the lives of young people. His work, and that of the other members of the Gar-Field community, is worthy of our admiration and gratitude.

What was most memorable about the occasion was the profound sense of community. As our county grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to hold onto that close-knit sense of fellowship that seems to come more easily in small towns.

In a genuine expression of love, the staff and students wrapped their arms around families who are suffering painful losses. I cannot think of a more wonderful place to send children to learn.

Thank you very much, Mr. Willis and Gar-Field, for a job well done! I know I am not alone when I say that I never cease to find reasons to be proud to have graduated from Gar-Field.

Ken Bassett