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Johnson Co. honors its heroes

Officials display the Honor and Remembrance flag to a large crowd attending this year’s Memorial Day ceremony in Mountain City, TN. The flag was presented to Michael Christian, honoring his son, Staff Sergeant Rusty Hunter Christian who lost his life in Operation Enduring Freedom. Johnson County native Robert Hensley a veteran of the Air Force and Post Commander of the American Legion Department of Tennessee was the Master of Ceremonies. Photo by Beth Cox

Memorial Day ceremonies focus on faith, family and freedom.

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

The patriotic heart and soul of Johnson County was well represented on Saturday, May 27, 2019 at Ralph Stout Park in Mountain City. The attendance was as inspiring as expected thanks to many in attendance honoring the men and women who lost their lives serving their country.
Johnson County native Robert Hensley who is a veteran of the Air Force and Past Commander of the American Legion Department of Tennessee was once again the Master of Ceremonies.
The Honor Guard presented the flags as Nancy Davis sang the National Anthem followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Navy Veteran Don Payne, Commander of Johnson County VFW.
After the prayer by Mr. Frank Woods, the Posting of Colors by the Honor Guard and the ceremonial presentation of colors, Marie Jo Thume, Director of the Johnson County Community Children’s Chorus led the children in two familiar, patriotic songs.

Mayor Mike Taylor, Mayor Kevin Parsons, and Rep. Timothy Hill were honorable participants, each of whom reminded the audience of the importance of remembering the debt that was paid for America’s freedom. Mayor Parsons focused on “why someone would want to do that and possibly give their lives.”
He reminded his audience of some of the reasons Abraham Lincoln suggested;
honor, adventure, and patriotism.
“They didn’t know us but thankfully gave the ultimate sacrifice and out of respect for them; we will not forget,” Parsons said.
Mayor Mike Taylor likened Joshua 4:5-7 to Memorial Day and challenged the crowd, “tell your children what these memorials mean just as Joshua asked what the stones meant to the people of Israel.”
Rep Hill mentioned, “God has given us the greatest nation on earth, and I am grateful to be a part of a culture that takes time on such a difficult day to honor our fallen.”
Taking his turn to address the crowd, Hensley added, “Brave men and women will always step up and forever fight, and if necessary, die for the sake of freedom.”
Army Veteran and Honor Guard Chaplain Terry Reece read the names of the veterans who lost their lives as the wreaths were being presented.

One of the most poignant moments of the ceremony was honoring Staff Sergeant Rusty Hunter Christian who lost his life in Operations Enduring Freedom.
Reece presented Sgt. Christian’s father, Michael Christian the Honor and Remembrance flag in memory of his son.
“I accept this on behalf of all those who have lost a child,” Christian said. The 2019 Memorial Day ceremony ended with a rifle volley and the playing of Taps and a benediction from Dwayne Dickson.