Are The Backdrop
BY KEN LITTLE
A crowd of about 100 people turned out Monday to honor the nation's veterans at the annual Veterans Day observance held on the steps of the Greene County Courthouse.
Many held small American flags. All were there to express appreciation for all that veterans have done to keep America free.
The keynote speaker was state Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville.
"On this day we recognize our veterans for their unwavering service to this nation," Hawk said.
He spoke of duty, honor, devotion to duty and the "selfless service" veterans have given and continue to give in the name of freedom.
Hawk had a simple message to all veterans.
"Thank you, all of you, for your service," he said. "You have paid the price for the freedom we enjoy."
Veterans, Hawk said, "are our heroes because they have repeatedly triumphed over adversity."
"It is this devotion to duty that gives us strength," he said.
Hawk spoke of active-duty service members overseas in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and said they were part of "the unbroken chain of heroes" that goes back throughout the nation's history.
"These modern-day patriots form a team that is our first line of defense," he said.
Hawk asked those present "to remember our veterans and the price they paid physically and emotionally to keep this nation safe."
Members of the Honor Guard from American Legion Post 64 fired three volleys of seven shots each to honor veterans before the military hymn "Taps" was played.
Veterans Day dates from the armistice, on Nov. 11, 1918, that ended World War I hostilities.
The holiday is intended to honor all veterans, whether they served in wartime or in peacetime.
Memorial Day, on May 30, honors members of the U.S. armed forces who died in the service of the country.
The turnout for the ceremony was higher than in recent years, said retired Army 1st Sgt. Gary Beason, commander of VFW Post 1990 and a Desert Storm veteran.
"It's a good day to honor our veterans and remember those who gave us our rights and privileges we enjoy today," Beason said.
One of those rights -- the freedom of religion -- was the reason the courthouse ceremony was not held on Nov. 11, the historic date of Armistice Day/Veterans Day, which fell on a Sunday this year.
Beason said that organizers didn't want to interfere with veterans who wanted to attend church.
County Mayor Alan Broyles also addressed the crowd, and said the contributions of veterans throughout the country's history have ensured the freedoms Americans enjoy today.
There are 495,800 veterans in the State of Tennessee.
"As I've said many times over, it is no accident we are standing in the courthouse square as a free people," Broyles said.
America has always prevailed because the troops know what they are fighting for, Broyles said.
"We come to say 'thanks' to the veterans who have sacrificed," he said, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
GOLD STAR MOTHERS
Two Gold Star mothers who lost sons serving in the military were at the ceremony and were presented with bouquets of flowers.
Kelli Read, whose 21-year-old son, Army Sgt. Brandon Read, was killed in Iraq in 2004, sat next to Mary Malone, whose 20-year-old son, Army Cpl. William F. Malone, died in the Vietnam War in 1969.
Malone said she never misses a Veterans Day observance, and is grateful organizers help keep her son's memory alive.
"It was nice. We appreciate them," she said after the ceremony.