‘Remember their sacrifice’

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Memorial Day 2023
Luke Bedortha, commander of the Comer-Jones VFW Post 621 in Luray, gives the keynote address at a Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 29.

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, May 29 — Luke Bedortha remembers how his perspective on the world greatly changed on Sept. 11, 2001. He heard news of the terrorist attacks while sitting in math class. He embraced the strong sense of nationalism that spread all across the U.S. in wake of the attacks…and an urge to serve his country grew as well.

By June 2009, Bedortha found himself in eastern Afghanistan.

“If you like rocks and mountains, you’re going to love it,” the VFW Post 621 Commander said he was first told when he arrived in country. His unit endured various levels of attacks and bombardments.

“We really felt invincible at that time,” he said.

That was until the day of an ambush, when his unit was hit particularly hard. His buddy, Nick Gideon, who wanted to become a cop after the military, didn’t make it.

“A little bit of all of us died that day,” Bedortha said of the surviving members of his unit.

“Just imagine the contributions they would have made to their communities…the children they may have had…and the contributions they would have made,” he said of the fallen. “We lost so much from their absence, but gain so much from what they sacrificed.”

The Comer-Jones VFW Post 621 and American Legion Post 22 hosted a Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday at the VFW hall. The nearly 70 in attendance stood for the presentation of colors and the singing of the national anthem by Doug Gochenour, followed by an invocation from VFW Chaplain Jeff Stoneberger.

American Legion Post 22 Commander Richard Worrell and VFW Commander Bedortha took a moment following Bedortha’s keynote address to recognize those among their memberships who had passed away in the last 12 months:

American Legion Post 22

  • Stanley R. Wade Jr.
  • Ernest Richard Blevins
  • Chester D. Jenkins
  • Bruce Stanley Short

Comer-Jones VFW Post 621

  • Thaniel Marcus Dodson
  • Stanley R. Wade Jr.
  • Ernest Richard Blevins
  • Dwight Thomas Griffith
  • Joseph Jean Claude St. Ours
  • Jerry Lee Henry

“We should also take this time to remember our Gold Star families who sacrificed so much as well,” Worrell said, noting the 1.2 million Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in military service.

A wreath laying took place prior to the playing of “Taps.”

“They died for us so we can live up to our best potential,” the VFW commander said in closing. “So live for them…lest we forget.”

“Thank you so much for coming out today,” Bedortha said. “Remember their sacrifice and what they left behind for us to make a future…remember it on this day, and remember it every day.”

Follow VFW Post 621 and American Legion Post 22 on their Facebook pages at





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