Honoring an American Patriot
Maj. Gen. Mitchell H. Stevenson, U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee commanding general and Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony T. Aubain, CASCOM command sergeant major, place a wreath in front of President James Monroe's monument April 28 at the Monroe Wreath Laying, Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond. Photo by Mike Strasser

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Clear skies and sunny weather graced the annual wreath-laying ceremony Saturday at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, honoring the country’s fifth president, James Monroe.

Maj. Gen. Mitchell H. Stevenson, U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee commanding general, described Monroe as “an exceptional patriot, an outstanding Soldier and statesman.”

“He dedicated his life to building this nation and securing the blessings of liberty that we hold dear,” said Stevenson, who led the ceremony on behalf of President George W. Bush on the 249th anniversary of Monroe’s birth.

“We continue to gather here each year because the principles he fought for are just as relevant today as when he worked to build this great nation. Today, we rely on our citizens more than ever, and our citizen-Soldiers to help secure freedom throughout the world. As we seek to defend our homeland and promote freedom, the sacrifices we endure are no less significant than they were in President Monroe’s era. Let us be inspired by President Monroe’s commitment, his unending dedication personal sacrifice, and his deep and undying love for his country.”

John Hager, assistant secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, spoke on behalf of the governor of Virginia.

“As the commonwealth of Virginia moves forward, I think it’s good to look back,” said Hager. “As we march forward through history in America, we’ve had eight presidents from Virginia, and James Monroe epitomizes those eight, serving a variety of offices and leaving a wide and distinguished legacy. It’s a good day to be a Virginian.”