U.Va. community contributes to documentary honoring local veterans

“Finding the Fallen” to be showcased on Memorial Day

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The University Alumni Association partnered with project organizers to research information and photographs for the project.

Lauren Hornsby | Cavalier Daily

University students and personnel are assisting ParadeRest — an organization that connects military members and their families with the local community — in a project to memorialize University and Charlottesville residents who have died in warfare.

The project, called “Finding the Fallen, 1941-2016: A Photographic Memorial Tribute to Local and University of Virginia Military Personnel Who Died While Serving in Times of War,” consists of a video highlighting the lives of Charlottesville and Albemarle County community members who died in service and a living document chronicling fallen University students and ROTC members.

The project will be showcased at a Memorial Day ceremony May 29 at the Paramount Theater.

Along with the debut of Finding the Fallen, the ceremony will honor former Virginia Gov. and U.S. Sen. Chuck Robb and his wife, Lynda Robb. Lynda Robb is the daughter of former President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Forty years ago, Chuck and Lynda Robb placed the final brick in the Downtown Mall, and they will return this year to be honored for their public service, as well as for Chuck Robb’s military service in Vietnam from 1961-1970.

Assoc. Prof. of Research Gregory Saathoff, ParadeRest founder and head of the project, said the documentary is meant to connect the community with those it has lost.

“The photos are very powerful because they provide a human understanding of the sacrifice and the cost,” Saathoff said. “Memorial Day is not an abstraction at all, but something that is very personal for those families and for the community as well.”

The project provides a unique experience for University students to bring attention to military personnel in the community, Saathoff said.

“I would say this is one of a number of projects that students have been involved in in a very primary way,” Saathoff said. “The opportunity to have students introduced to parents of the fallen and those veterans who have fought, I think it’s very valuable for the veterans to be able to share their stories with students who are interested in public service.”

Cameron Haddad, first-year College student and researcher for the project, said he gained a new perspective while working on the project when he realized one of the fallen soldiers he researched was the same age as him.

“I saw that he was 19 years old, as a 19-year-old myself that was shocking to even imagine that,” Haddad said. “It humanizes a lot of the experiences of these people, and hopefully it has that impact for a lot of other people at the University and the Albemarle area as well.”

The University Alumni Association partnered with project organizers to research information and photographs for the project.

Alumni Association President C. Thomas Faulders III said he wants to find a more permanent way to display the video to University students.

“What we hope to do is take the video that’s being done on alumni and put it on permanent display down in alumni hall,” Faulders said. “We haven’t figured out all the logistics or technology yet but that’s what we want to do.”

Faulders said although the University currently honors students who died in combat with plaques in the Rotunda, the video and document honor them in a new way.

“This takes it to another level. You see the names of those who had died in service, but you’ll also see pictures out of Corks and Curls where we can find them, so it’ll make it a much more personal experience,” Faulders said.

Correction: A quote in this article previously read "Memorial Day is not an extraction at all..."

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