November 14, 2018
By Marlana Ward
Heritage Hall was filled with patriotism and gratitude as the community came together to honor all veterans and active military members for a Veteran’s Day celebration held on November 10. Local veterans, government officials, and community members took to the stage to share thoughts, songs, and moments of remembrance for fallen heroes. The day’s Master of Ceremonies was Air Force Veteran, Robert Hensley, who began by sharing what Veteran’s Day ceremonies mean to him.
“I have participated in many veteran recognition programs and parades across the country, and you can only imagine the feeling a veteran has being publicly thanked, applauded, hugged, and shown gratitude in so many ways. God blesses us in many ways, and one blessing for me will be looking out at a full house at Heritage Hall on Veterans Day and having the young folks of the Johnson County Community Children’s Chorus participating in our program.”
The ceremony began with the Presentation of Colors by the Johnson County Honor Guard followed by the National Anthem performed by Nancy Davis followed by the invocation by Pastor Bill Morefield of Corinth Baptist Church and the Posting of Colors. The Johnson County Community Children’s Chorus came to the stage to perform “Eleven, Eleven March” and “Proud of Our Veterans.” The children’s patriotic clothing and bright smiles shared how they were proud to be a part of the day’s event.
Local and state officials also took to the stage to express their gratitude for those who have served and those who currently serve. The first speaker was City Mayor Kevin Parsons. Parsons spoke of how the clock located at the corner of Main and Church had recently been changed not only to honor Johnson County veterans but all veterans who have served the country. Parsons then read the famous remembrance poem “So God Made A Service Member.” County Mayor Mike Taylor came to the stage and issued a challenge to all listening.
“My challenge to you today is, especially this time of year, as you drive through our community and the hills and hollers and you can see the framework of those mountains and see those mighty oaks and hickories and all those mighty trees, I want you to think about your veterans that are in your homes or in your churches or people that you come in contact with. I want you to think about their strength, their stand, and their steadfastness that they provide to keep us free. Share that with your children and your grandchildren.”
State Representative Timothy Hill came to the podium to share his thoughts on Johnson County’s commitment to its veterans. “Johnson County is a place that treats its veterans in a special way.”
Hill then went on to share how the installation of the “Missing Man” chair at the local courthouse has inspired other communities to do something similar and how the opportunity he had to come and share in that presentation led to him seeking a similar installation at the state capital. “It greatly came from the honor that was paid in this community to veterans, and I got to see it firsthand. What you are doing here today matters.”
Next to express his appreciation was State Senator and Navy Veteran Jon Lundberg. “Folks in Johnson County and Mountain City get it. Not just show, but they get it in their heart. No one ever has to talk about if someone would take a knee, it’s never going to happen here. It is in your heart and your soul.”
Lundberg also brought special attention to his fellow navy shipmates and as well as the children who participated in the event.
“You’re amazing,” he said. “You are not only our future, but you’re also candidly our now.”
Lundberg also thanked the citizens of Johnson County who came out to show their support of veterans. “I want to say thank you to the folks who are here today who are civilians who came on this cold day because frankly, you honor us more than anything. You could have chosen to stay home and stay warm, but you chose to come out here and what your action was and it says a great deal about the character that you have. You are also going to be a mentor and the type of leader that these young people look
After Nancy Davis shared songs popular in the World War I era and the crowd joined in singing “God Bless America,” Navy Veteran Patti Young and Air Force Veteran Richard Dionne came forward to honor Johnson County World War I veterans. Dionne shared the poem poem “Reply To In Flanders Field.” Members of the Johnson County Honor Guard brought forth a wreath, and “Taps” was played as a moment was held to remember all those brave men and women who gave their lives in service to our country as well as those honored our community with their presence throughout the years and had passed on.
Veterans from all branches of the American Military were honored as a representative from each branch brought forward the flag of each branch to the front of the room. As each flag was presented and their march-song played, veterans of that branch stood and were recognized. After the benediction was given by Pastor Greg Poe of First Freewill Baptist Church, those in attendance took the time to greet and thank the many servicemen and women in attendance and again show how Johnson County cares for its veterans.