'Take The Time,
Thank A Veteran,'
Is Message From
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The largest Veterans Day crowd in recent memory gathered Monday morning to honor Greene County's veterans at the annual Veterans Day ceremony on the steps of the Greene County Courthouse.
More than 100 people gathered on the courthouse lawn, overflowing onto South Main Street, which Greeneville police blocked off for the occasion.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1990 led the event with aid from American Legion Post 64's Greene County Honor Guard.
"For as long as the world's been created, there have been wars. And where there are wars, there have been soldiers," said retired Army 1st Sgt. Gary Beason, commander of VFW Post 1990.
"The veterans have been divided through the years into the different branches. However, we still stand together as brothers and sisters, selflessly sacrificing all to keep our United States free.
"So today, let's take the time and thank a veteran. Without them, our United States wouldn't be what it is today," Beason said.
GOLD STAR MOTHERS
Beason gave special recognition to Greene County's Gold Star mothers, and each of the two attending the ceremony was presented with a bouquet of roses.
Those included Kelli Read, who lost her son, Army Sgt. Brandon Read, in Iraq in 2004, and Mary Malone, who lost her son, Army Cpl. William F. Malone, in Vietnam in 1969.
"Greene County has paid its price," Beason said.
He also made special note of Gold Star mother Donna Ball, who lost her son, Army Sgt. Rusty Hunter Christian, in Afghanistan in 2010.
Ball and her husband were recently traveling to Arlington to visit their son's grave when they were in a vehicle accident that left both injured, he said.
They are recovering at home and were unable to attend on Monday, Beason explained.
"Let our prayers and thoughts turn toward that family," he added. "They have paid the ultimate sacrifice [in having lost their son]."
American Legion Post Chaplain Ed Pryor provided the invocation prior to the crowd's hearing from keynote speaker Dr. Vic Young, founder and pastor of Foundation of Life Bible Church.
Young emphasized the need for Americans to stand up for veterans' rights.
"When you study the word of God, you'll find that there has always been a remnant who has stood up for what is right," he said in praise of veterans who have fought for America's freedoms.
"We need to stop every veteran that we see and say, 'Thank God for you and what you sacrificed,'" he concluded.
Also speaking on Monday was Greene County Mayor Alan Broyles, who highlighted the history of Veterans Day.
Established in 1919, the holiday was originally called Armistice Day, a reference to the armistice that ended World War I on Nov. 11, 1918.
After World War II and The Korean War, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day.
"Why has America prevailed? Because we had those men and women who knew and realized what they were fighting for," he said.
"We are grateful for all our Greene County soldiers who have given their sacrifice -- and some the supreme sacrifice. On behalf of Greene County, its 70,000 citizens, we say, 'Thank you. We are grateful for your sacrifices and your desire to keep us free.'"
The ceremony concluded with members of the Honor Guard firing three volleys of seven shots each to honor veterans just before the playing of the military hymn, "Taps."
As the soft notes played over the courthouse lawn, many eyes filled with tears as heads bowed in gratitude.
PRESENTATION TO RICKER
A surprise highlight of the service was the presentation to D-Day veteran Arthur Ricker Sr. of his honorary high school diploma from what was then Sunnyside High School.
The presentation was made by state Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, who had coordinated the arrangements.
Ricker left high school before his high school graduation to enter the U.S. armed forces.
Please see accompanying article, Page A-1.