5th annual “A Walk in Their Boots” set for Nov. 5 & 6

Published 8:08 am Thursday, October 20, 2016

Photo Contributed Eric Montgomery and his uncle, Johnnie, visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Photo Contributed
Eric Montgomery and his uncle, Johnnie, visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Veterans from across the region are invited to take part in a special opportunity of seeing history recreated.

The fifth annual “A Walk in Their Boots” is gearing up to set up shop at Sycamore Shoals State Park in Elizabethton on Saturday, Nov. 5 and Sunday, Nov. 6. The event is free of charge and allows attendees a chance to “honor our forefathers who boots touched the very ground that we will so proudly call our home over the course of the event,” according to Eric Montgomery, veteran liaison with A Walk in Their Boots.

“A local man named Paul Morrison from the Tri-Cities really got this event going,” Montgomery said. “We’re going to be working with reenactors to portray parts of living history, ranging from the American Revolution all the the way to Desert Storm and the campaigns that followed afterwards. It’s a great event to pay respect to our veterans and give them the respect for the weekend.”

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Montgomery, who provided the keynote speech at the National D-Day Memorial in 2012, is avid supporter of the veterans and loves what Elizabethton and Carter County has to offer.

“Here I am as an outsider … I’m originally from Pittsburgh,” Montgomery said with a laugh. “I’ve been in the Tri-Cities for 10 years and this is my second year with this event and I just love this area. With the beauty of Sycamore Shoals, the Covered Bridge and the Carter Mansion … it’s great. You couldn’t ask for a more patriotic community, either. The Wall in downtown, each of the memorials, Elizabethton is a place that honors their veterans.”

The liaison also added the history of Elizabethton during World War II with North American Rayon and Bemberg creating parachutes for soldiers serving overseas.

With no prior military service, Montgomery said he loves what he does.

“I was talking to one of my friends who was in the service and he asked why I did what I do,” he said. “I told him, ‘it’s because of you’, I’ll use money I can and my free time to pay respect to our veterans who are still with us or who have passed away.”

Montgomery has been reenacting, as a signalman in the Navy, since 2003. The art of providing historic context and respect to veterans lies with the fact that Montgomery’s great uncle, Amin Isbir, passed away on June 6, 1944 while serving in the 6th Naval Beach Battalion during World War II. Montgomery even developed a website showcasing the history of Isbir and other family members online at soldiersandsailors.us to tell their stories.

Working with World War II is a joy, Montgomery added, who helps orchestrates one of the biggest D-Day remembrance event in the nation, recently being surrounded around as a many as 200 World War II veterans for a recent event.

“That’s why we do these events,” Montgomery said. “We had recently had an event in Ohio that had 40,000 people and that was 90-year-old veterans, their children and families. It’s an incredible time to pay respect by showing what they went through and portraying these battles while hearing their stories of wartime.”

Saturday’s portion of the event will include a weapons demonstration and with speakers while Sunday includes a church service with veterans dressed in proper attire.

These events are huge for our veterans and big for the community’s economic output, he added.

But while the weekend includes historic context, it also allows veterans a chance to come together and have fellowship with one another.

“One of my biggest goals is to drop the D from PTSD,” Montgomery added. “We want these events to be a chance for soldiers to come out and share their stories and show them that this isn’t a disorder, what they’ve done for this country is welcomed and appreciated.”

Anyone looking to participate in the event have a variety of channels to choose from to register or donate items for the events. Individuals can visit www.militarywalk.us or contact Montgomery by email at ericm@militarywalk.us or call 412-726-6665.