There's a new flag flying at Bachman-Bernard Chevrolet-Buick-GMC-Cadillac under the big Stars and Stripes at the top of the flagpole.
The smaller flag that now flies beneath the U.S. flag at the auto dealership on East Andrew Johnson Highway is the POW/.MIA flag, and its presence began with a ceremony last week at the dealership.
The ceremony was conducted by members of Chapter 4 TN of Rolling Thunder, Inc.: one of the national organization's six Tennessee chapters and the one that is reportedly the nation's largest, with 208 members. The chapter was established in 2003.
The national organization, formally incorporated in 1995, is perhaps best known by the general public through the annual motorcycle pilgrimage Rolling Thunder sponsors to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day Weekend.
Known as both the "Ride for Freedom" and the "Ride to the Wall," the huge event attracts hundreds of thousands and is designed to focus attention on American POWs (Prisoners of War (POWs) and MIAs (those Missing In Action) of all wars.
According to the Rolling Thunder web site, the Class 501(c)(4) non-profit organization has more than 90 chartered chapters throughout the United States, and members abroad as well.
The movement began among Vietnam War veterans, and a great many of the members of Rolling Thunder are armed forces veterans, although that is not a requirement.
The group's purpose, the website states, is to remind "the government, the media and the public by our watchwords: 'We Will Not Forget.'"
Among many other activities in support of its cause, Rolling Thunder chapters regularly donate POW/MIA flags to local area schools, youth groups, non-profit organizations, and special interest groups, and frequently carry out related flag-raising ceremonies as well as military graveside services.
That's exactly what happened last week at Bachman-Bernard.
Members of Rolling Thunder Chaper 4 conducted the special ceremony and flag-raising at the dealership which now authorizes the business to fly the POW/MIA flag.
Chapter President Alan Sipe, an armed forces veteran and a retired Greeneville High School and West Greene High School teacher and coach, said that the chapter received a request for the ceremony and flag-raising and was glad to do it.
Sipe, who now lives in Gray, noted that the POW/MIA flag is now officially a national flag.