By: Contributed Report | Twitter: @PGJournal
Posted: June 14, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – Before students headed out for their traditional Memorial Day weekend break, the young men and women at Moore Middle School took time out to honor those who came before them and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of America.
On May 23, JEJ Moore Middle School honored the county’s fallen soldiers during their seventh annual Memorial Day ceremony, a fixture of the school year for students and teachers alike.
This annual event started in honor of Moore alum Captain Jesse Ozbat, who died while serving in Afghanistan in 2012.
Ozbat was a 2002 graduate of Prince George High School and a 2006 graduate of Virginia State University, finishing in the top 10 percent of all cadets nationwide. Captain Ozbat received his commission on May 13, 2006. He served with the 1st and 14th Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade in Iraq, and with the 214th Fires Brigade at Fort Sill, and assigned to the 168 Brigade Support Battalion in Afghanistan. Captain Ozbat’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
Following his death in May of 2012, a tree was planted in the school’s memorial garden in his honor.
During the pre-Memorial Day ceremony, students read the poem “For the Fallen,” authored by Laurence Binyon and published in 1914, remaining to this day as a traditional piece of literary art read at Memorial Day services.
In addition, the ceremony also featured musical tributes to the county’s fallen service members as Moore’s choir sang “I Will Remember You,” and the school’s band played the National Anthem.
As members of the school’s honor guard placed flags in their memorial guard, students Matthew Marshall and Anthony Hernandez read the names of Prince George County’s fallen soldiers aloud, ranging from World War I and II, through the Korean and Vietnam Wars, to more recent conflicts involving the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A poignant moment during the ceremony, as Ozbat’s name was read and a flag placed in his honor, sixth-grade teacher and combat veteran Rodney Leary, Jr. offered a formal salute to the fallen as the sound of Taps resonated through the campus, played by seventh grader Isaiah Brendel before an audience of onlookers, including Ozbat’s parents, brother, widow.
Ozbat’s memory and impact on Prince George isn’t lost nor will it be forgotten as, in 2018, the county board of supervisors, officials at Fort Lee, and the Virginia Department of Transportation came together to name the roundabout at the entrance of Fort Lee Gate A, Allin Road, Jefferson Park Road and Bull Hill Road the “Captain Jesse A. Ozbat Memorial Circle,” which was formally dedicated in October of last year.