On Friday, November 19, Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger traveled to Johnson County to honor local Vietnam veterans. This tradition started by her predecessor, Phil Roe, spotlights this group of underappreciated veterans around the country. To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary, officials’ first stop of the day was a ceremony at the Johnson County Senior Center.
Congresswoman Harshbarger took the time to speak with each veteran and encouraged them to share stories of their time in service to share insight into what they experienced. As each person was awarded their 50th-anniversary pin, the congresswoman posed for a photo with them. Local John Wayne Jeffries shared the story of his patch-covered vest and how each piece
represented one of his comrades who survived and advanced to top ranks in the military.
“I was not going to miss this,” Congresswoman Harshbarger commented. “I want you to know what an honor it is to be here today. I’ve done several pinning ceremonies, and there’s no greater blessing for me than to hear the stories of the men and women who come forward to receive that and they’re precious.”
According to Congresswoman Harshbarger, there are over 150,000 Vietnam-era veterans in Tennessee, and a large portion of those stem from the First District. With the history surrounding the Vietnam War, many were
not welcomed home when they made it back. In an email, one veteran described “never feeling so alone
and out of place.” Several people took this event as an opportunity to extend that welcome.
“This is proof to me that this matters,” Congresswoman Harshbarger explained. “Everything you do matters. These little tokens of appreciation, people, it matters. I respect people, and I honor your service.”
The Johnson County Senior Center was packed and slow to empty as seniors gathered around the doorway to chat with the congresswoman before she headed out for
her next ceremony in a
neighboring county. From
the comments during the
pinning and afterward, the Johnson County Vietnam
veterans seemed to feel blessed to be a part of the ceremony.
The Johnson County Senior Center is a nonprofit organization serving seniors 60 years old and over. Membership is free. Find out more at johnsoncountyseniorcenter.com or through social media.