Dr. John Grauerholz ended up speaking at Leesburg’s Memorial Day celebration almost by accident. He was contacted by Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd, but she was looking for one of Grauerholz’s neighbors.
Whatever the circumstances, Grauerholz said he was proud to stand and speak to the importance of remembering American soldiers.
"Some wars are popular, some are not and their meaning changes with time," he said. "The one constant is the American men and women who go into to harm’s way. That is why we are here today."
During the annual Memorial Day celebration on the county courthouse steps, Grauerholz, a first lieutenant in the Army, who served in the Army Nurse Corps in Vietnam, joined Umstattd, other war veterans and county residents to honor America’s fallen soldiers.
"We are here today because they are not," Umstattd said. "They gave their lives, some for their God, some for their country, some to safe guard their home, some saving the life of the soldier or sailor next to them."
Representatives from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Boy Scouts of America, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Daughters of the American Revolution and United Daughters of the Confederacy helped mark the occasion, with wreaths places at the bottom of each of Leesburg’s war memorials.
Even as the ceremony honored the dead, Grauerholz also spoke about the importance of remembering those soldiers and sailors who did come back from war.
"The wounded and maimed intrude into our daily lives and present us with questions that we would prefer not to face," he said.
He recounted the history of World War II’s GI Bill of Rights, including the 2.2 million World War II veterans who used the bill to attend college.
"Might I suggest that doing right by our veterans might be good business," he said. "If we as a society are going to invest in people, we should invest in those that put their lives on the line for the rest of us."