electric cooperatives are proud to support the mission of the Virginia War
Vietnam POW Paul Galanti and electric cooperative CEO Jack Reasor
reflect on the thousands of Virginias who gave their lives in
service to their country.
Etched in stone and glass on a hill in
Richmond, overlooking the majestic James River, are the names of more than
11,600 Virginia heroes.
These are Virginians who gave the last
full measure — Virginians who sacrificed their lives for their country.
They are remembered in the Virginia War Memorial.
The Virginia War Memorial honors all
Virginia veterans, but those who were killed in action during World War II,
Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm are particularly honored in the
memorial’s Shrine of Memory. Plans
are underway to honor Virginians killed in action in the War on Terror; over
100 Virginians have been killed at the hands of the enemy thus far in Iraq
The memorial’s mission is “to Honor
our Veterans, Preserve our History, Educate our Children, and Inspire
Patriotism in All.”
Authorized in 1950 by an act of the
Virginia General Assembly and completed in 1955, the memorial is located on
the northeast side of the Lee Bridge, only blocks from the city’s bustling
downtown business district. While located in the state’s capital, the
names etched upon the memorial’s walls are those of people from all across
the Old Dominion. Virginia communities, large and small, have produced those
of Paul and Phyllis Galanti, which hangs in the memorial's
auditorium, appeared on the cover of Newsweek in 1973. Galanti is
quick to humbly defer cerdit to his bride.
Many of the communities represented in
the Shrine of Memory are towns and counties served by electric cooperatives.
“The Virginia War Memorial is a
hallowed place, a sacred shrine to our veterans, and stands as a
particularly poignant reminder of how many of our native sons and daughters
have given their lives in service to our nation,” notes Jack Reasor, CEO
of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric
Cooperatives and Old Dominion Electric Cooperative.
“We’re proud to support this
memorial, and the fighting men and women that it honors,” Reasor adds.
Understanding the urgent need to educate
on events half a century past, the memorial’s trustees commissioned
privately funded educational programs in 1997. This initiative principally
used personal stories of sacrifice and honor to teach history and inspire
The centerpiece of the memorial’s
educational programs is its award-winning Virginians at War interview and
film program. So far, over 800 veterans from across Virginia have been
interviewed, creating an extensive database for historians and students to
research individuals’ stories and perceptions. Fourteen films have been
completed. In 2004, six of them were approved for Virginia’s Standards of
Learning program and distributed to more than 1,400 public and private
intermediate and high schools in Virginia, as well as other veteran groups
and military units. This was accomplished at no cost to the schools or the
The Virginians at War series, combined
with other efforts, has significantly increased the Virginia War
Memorial’s awareness with numerous groups in the local region and
throughout the Commonwealth, and has highlighted the message of the “Price
of Freedom.” The memorial has added staff and approximately 40 volunteers
to meet the increasing demand for its educational offerings and to assist
with increased visitors.
Facilities Stretched to
With over 20,000 people from 42 states
and 19 countries visiting the memorial in 2007, the facilities are stretched
to the breaking point. Some groups must be turned away and individual
visitors cannot be provided educational support because the single
auditorium cannot accommodate multiple
groups for education and meetings. The memorial is also used by active
military forces for events such as homecomings from the War on Terror.
A 17,300-square-foot education center is
planned to alleviate the increasing demand on the facilities, to expand the
educational opportunities and outreach for school children and visitors, and
to provide for adequate visitor services. Projected cost of the project is
The center will be named for two
American heroes, Virginians Paul and Phyllis Galanti. Paul, a Naval aviator,
was shot down over Vietnam and held prisoner for more than six years. His
wife, Phyllis, led the civilian effort back home to ensure that American
POWs were not forgotten.
H. Warner, Jr., executive director of the Virginia War Memorial
Educational Foundation, shares plans for the memorial's proposed
expansion with namesake Paul Galanti and electric cooperatives
representatives David Hudgins and Jack Reasor.
The Paul and Phyllis Galanti Education
Center campaign is seeking to raise slightly more than $2 million of the
$8.1 million project from private sources. The Commonwealth of Virginia has
committed to the remaining $6.05 million once the private funds have been
raised. The new center will provide:
--A multi-purpose room and a training
room to accommodate increasing school field trips, veteran groups, active
military and general visitors and tourists.
---A dedicated theater to display the
memorial’s award-winning educational film series, Virginians at War, which
cannot be shown today if the existing auditorium is in use.
---Space for proper storage and access
to the Memorial Research Library, which consists of books, posters,
magazines, newspapers and films, currently unavailable for educational
research and the general public.
---Exhibit space to highlight the wars
in which our veterans have served and sacrificed.
---Space for the memorial’s Salute to
Veterans computer educational programs.
---Permanent staff, volunteer, and
artifact/ exhibit storage space currently housed in three overcrowded
----Sufficient improved outdoor
amphitheatre facilities for patriotic and veterans’ events at the
memorial, currently supported by numerous off-site resources.
“By educating this and future
generations, together the Commonwealth and its citizens can create a lasting
tribute to the state’s sons and daughters who served in the armed
forces,” says Harry H. Warner, Jr., executive director of the Virginia War
Memorial Educational Foundation. “Completing the
Paul and Phyllis Galanti Education Center will ensure that their duty and
service protecting our and others’ freedoms will never be forgotten,” he
Anyone interested in helping support this effort,
financially or otherwise, may contact Harry
Warner at (804) 786-2060, or visit www.vawarmemorial.org.