Southampton Academy dedicates flagpole in Christopher Ray’s memory

Published 8:26 am Friday, June 4, 2010

COURTLAND—When Anne Ray drives by Southampton Academy at night, she’s moved by the lighted flagpole that displays the U.S. and Virginia flags.

The flagpole was recently erected outside the school in memory of her son, Christopher, a deputy with the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office. Ray was killed in an Aug. 29 car accident while responding to a fight in Newsoms. He had been on the job for three months.

The flagpole project was funded with contributions left in the memory of the 22-year-old.

“The flag pole was a project that the school had wanted for a while, and because he had been a deputy, we thought it would be a really nice tribute,” Anne Ray said. “I’ve taught at Southampton for 20 years and my children grew up there.”

The state flag that flies over Southampton Academy is the same one that flew over the capital in Richmond within days after Christopher Ray died.

The Southampton Academy community on May 21 gathered around the flagpole to pay tribute to Ray.

“It was absolutely beautiful,” said Anne Pittman, who works in the school’s admissions office. “Mr. and Mrs. Ray have been involved with the school since their children have been there.”

“The children were so gracious and receptive,” added Anne Ray, an English teacher whose youngest son, Cameron, graduated on Saturday from Southampton Academy.

A bronze plaque rests at the foot of the pole with the inscription from John 15:12-14. It reads “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

Ken Ray and Daniel Vinson, who was Christopher Ray’s classmate from Southampton Academy, spoke during the ceremony.

James S. Green Contractor, whom Christopher Ray worked for while in college, installed the flagpole.

A 2005 graduate of Southampton Academy who earned a degree in criminal justice from Radford University, Christopher Ray recently had his name added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

During Police Week held each May, there is a candlelight ceremony during which the names are read. Tributes to fallen officers are left at the wall during this time.

The keynote speaker for this year’s service was President Barack Obama. Each family placed a flower in a memorial wreath, which was then delivered to the memorial.