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Yellow Ribbons welcome soldiers home

A yellow ribbon tied to a utility pole at the Johnson County Courthouse. One of many placed around Mountain City by the Yellow Ribbon Mission to welcome local veterans home. Photo by Beth Cox

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

With several of Johnson County soldiers returning home in just a few days, Ellen Watkins with the Red Cross felt they should have a welcoming homecoming, so she began her “yellow ribbon mission.” Watkins expressed her feelings about the project when she said, “They have been away for almost a year. They need to know they were missed.” After she got the idea of covering the county with yellow ribbons, Watkins immediately started sharing her mission with others, and then things started happening quickly.
The quote, “Alone we can do little, together we can do so much,” exemplifies the foundation of Johnson County. Hearing of the yellow ribbon mission, Farmers State Bank and Johnson County Bank each purchased 100 yellow ribbons to be put in various locations throughout the county.
Melissa Gentry with Mountain City Antiques purchased fifty ribbons as well as Mountain City Dental.
Millers Flowers and House of Flowers only charged for ribbon, but due to the overwhelming response of the community, Millers Flowers has sold out while House of Flowers still has some yellow ribbons left.
Purchasing the yellow ribbons was just the beginning.
Many churches, youth groups, organizations, and schools have joined, creating a sea of beautiful yellow
ribbons that leaves little doubt of Johnson County’s pride and love for its soldiers.
Andrew Norman from First Christian Church led his youth group down 421
to hang up the yellow ribbons.
“It is a visible way of us saying thank you to our soldiers for their service overseas for the past year,” Norman said. “It means so much because we all know someone or we know their families. It was the least we could do to honor their work and service in the protection of our freedoms and our right to worship freely.”
As for Watkins, she is in awe of the turnout, “everywhere I look, I see
yellow ribbons.” She did not expect anything less from the good people of
Johnson County, “this county always comes together and always supports and takes care of their soldiers and veterans.”
As the old song goes, “Now the whole bus is cheerin’, and I can’t believe I see. A hundred yellow ribbons round the ole oak tree, I’m comin’ home.”