After a five-year battle for Virginia’s fallen veterans, yesterday the Virginia General Assembly passed a law banning discrimination in the way we honor our war dead.
Imagine losing your son to war and being told his name will not be included on the Virginia War Memorial.
Rick Shumann doesn`t have to imagine it, he`s been living it.
Rick Schumann goes to his son’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery as he does every year on the anniversary of his death.
The next time he visits, he will speak to his son’s grave about the end of a journey to honor his sacrifice.
It was a vote he had been eight years for. It finally took place in the Virginia General Assembly without dissent Thursday.
Today his thoughts turn to his son.
“Anytime Darrell is brought up, I get choked up. It’s very hard to lose a son,” says Rick Schumann. “To hear them talk about Darrell and the standing ovation, pretty touching.”
For five years, NewsChannel 3 partnered with Shumann to bring you the story of Lance Cpl. Darrell Schumann for his honor and sacrifice. Rick took the time to say thanks.
“You and your channel here has been stalwart in helping us with it,” Says Schumann.
It was a story we had to tell. Who would speak for the war dead?
Lance Cpl. Darrell Shuman had just finished fighting in Fallujah when he was ordered to the to the Syrian Border.
He died en route when the helicopter he was in crashed in January 2005. Because the crash was an accident, it was not considered a combat death.
Despite his service in the war zone, the old policy stated Darrel’s name was not eligible to take a place in the shrine of memory.
While Shumman is relieved, the vote rejects the old policy of exclusion. He doesn’t understand the legislative process that prevented men and women who die in a combat zone whether it was an accident or design were not honored equally.
And as the vote signals an end of his journey, he is cautious to not presume it is over just yet.
“We’re not home. We’ve rounded 3rd base. We’re on our way,” says Shumman.
While this epic battle for equality among the war dead is nearly over, Rick says it won`t truly be over for him until the Governor signs the bill into law.