By Meg Dickens
Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, started in November 1919 after World War I ended and became a federal holiday in 1938. President Woodrow Wilson signed the original bill designating this holiday, and President Dwight Eisenhower changed the name and designated a Veterans Day National Committee.
“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations,” declared President Wilson.
Locally a lot is going on for veterans. This year, news of a long-awaited $1.4 million Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic was announced. The James H. Quillen VA Medical Center will be a 5,600 square-foot clinic offering primary care and mental health services along with specialty care through telehealth. Officials estimate opening the Coldsprings Road facility in March 2020.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to provide the much deserved medical services to the Veterans in the Mountain City area, and we’re appreciative of your support in achieving that goal,” said Facilities Management Service Chief Kevin R. Milliken.
Johnson County is rich in memorials. Ralph Stout Park holds the Johnson County Memorial Wall along with additional monuments. Wayne Stegall, Worley Hall, and many more are honored at this site. American Veterans Memorial Walk for Veterans of All Wars across from the Butler Museum is a walkway made from individual bricks purchased by the public. Each brick is engraved in honor or memory of any veteran. The Johnson County Courthouse monuments honor fallen veterans and first responders. An empty seat is set aside to recognize Prisoners of War (POW) and those Missing in Action (MIA).
Nationally, the United States Library of Congress is collecting veteran stories for future generations in its Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center. Any veteran interested in sharing their story should contact Veterans History Liaison and Special Projects Coordinator Terry Harris at (423) 254-1400. Find out more about this project at loc.gov/vets.