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Johnson County honors its veterans with solemn event

By: Rebecca Barnhart-Allan
Freelance writer

A memorable and lovely ceremony was held in honor of Veteran’s Day at Heritage Hall Auditorium on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. The seats of the auditorium were nearly filled to capacity with the overflow being located to the balcony area. The solemn event opened with a brief introduction from M.C. Robert Hensley, USAF Veteran, followed by the Presentation of Colors by the Johnson County Honor Guard and a lovely rendition of the National Anthem sung by Nancy Davis. The audience and all involved rose for the Pledge of Allegiance which was led by John Arnold, USMC Korean War Veteran, and then all bowed their heads for the Invocation given by the pastor of Rainbow Mennonite Church, Gary Gambill. After the Posting of the Colors by the Johnson County Honor Guard, singer and Army Veteran, Kerry Gentry, honored the veterans with his heartfelt and emotional vocal stylings of “There She Stands,” followed by the jaunty tune written during the time of the Civil War, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” He was rewarded with much applause from the appreciative crowd.
Afterwards, Mountain City Mayor Lawrence Keeble stood in honor of the Veterans and gave a brief speech in thanks to all those who paid the ultimate price, those present and past generations, and thanked them again from the bottom of his heart. “What else can I say? This is your day, a day to be remembered,” and he asked the audience to give them all a round of applause.
With his effusive and heartfelt speech, he finished with a humorous note, “I don’t want to say too much, I’m not going to say too much and with that, I’m going to shut up! Thank you!”
Johnson County Mayor Larry Potter followed with a brief speech, saying that the “…vets and ones serving today, we will never know what you went through. I thank you.” He also conveyed his regret that Lt. Governer Ramsey was unable to attend due to a prior engagement. Following Mayor Potter, the 3rd District Representative Elect Timothy Hill came in the Governor’s stead stating, “With each passing year, the thankfulness in my heart goes out to these guys. I want to say that I can’t thank you enough.” He went on to say that he was truly impressed with our Honor Guard and encouraged our young people to seek out a veteran and to get to know them.
Following the remarks, Nancy Davis and the Middle School Singers performed. Part of the choral group gathered on stage and sang while holding up flags, followed with posters of the insignia of each branch of the armed forces while the other half of the group was positioned in the balcony, singing in unison.
They presented a moving performance of three songs, beginning with “Eleven, Eleven March,” then “Remember Me,” and finishing with “Candle for Remembering.”
The musical performance was followed with a moving and in depth speech from USAF Veteran, Robert Hensley, who noted that there are 23 million veterans still among us. He also referred to the 1.2 million service women who are in uniform today, serving our country here and abroad. He spoke briefly about the situation involving the unemployment and under-employment of our veterans and that it is the duty of America’s businesses to ensure that our veterans don’t suffer, after having sacrificed so much. He went on to say, “We revere these heroes because they revere us,” and “A land that can produce such heroes is a land worth serving.” He also remarked that many of our veterans now serve in the police force, fire rescue, and as EMT’s, and how many continue to help Americans today in such instances as Hurricane Sandy. Lastly, he talked of the bravery of the Navy Seals who lost their lives saving State Dept. personnel in Libya when they were under attack. They paid the ultimate price, and he asked all of those present to thank these brave men and women for all that they have done, all that they have given, and all that they continue to give.”

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