Never Forgotten: Roll Call ceremony honors the lives, sacrifices of community’s veterans

Published 5:46 pm Friday, December 16, 2016

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye  U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, M.D., reads from the list of veterans who are buried at Mountain Home National Cemetery as part of the "All Call Roll Call" ceremony held on Friday.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, M.D., reads from the list of veterans who are buried at Mountain Home National Cemetery as part of the “All Call Roll Call” ceremony held on Friday.

Across fields dotted with white stone markers the names of dearly departed veterans rang out through the cold, crisp air at Mountain Home National Cemetery on Friday morning.
The name of each veteran buried in the cemetery — whether they served in the Civil War, the War on Terror or if they served in times of peace — was read aloud by volunteers as a tribute to their service and as a way of insuring the community’s heroes are not forgotten.
The All Call Roll Call was hosted at Mountain Home as part of this weekend’s Wreaths Across America ceremony. The reading of names began at 6 a.m. and lasted several hours as volunteers read the names of the more than 14,800 veterans interred at the cemetery. Those volunteers came out despite the frigid temperatures Friday morning to pay homage to the veterans and their sacrifices in the name of country and community. The volunteers read the names in 15 minute increments, but volunteers could sign up to read for more than one time slot.
Among the volunteer readers Friday morning was U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, M.D., who represents Tennessee’s First Congressional District. In addition to being a veteran himself, Roe was also recently selected by Republican leadership to serve as Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Roe said he was “deeply honored” to be able to participate in the All Call Roll Call Friday morning.
“Reading those names is very sobering,” Roe said. “In just the few minutes that I did it I read several names of people that I personally knew. As you listen, there are names of people that lived around here that you grew up with.”
Roe also praised the work done by the Wreaths Across America organization in honoring our nation’s veterans and making sure their sacrifices are not forgotten.
“I think the Wreaths Across America just tells us about the sacrifices people have made to allow us to be a free country,” Roe said.
A special wreath laying ceremony will be held Saturday at Noon at the Mountain Home National Cemetery. Following the ceremony, holiday wreaths will be placed on the graves of veterans.
Friday marked the first time Roe has visited the Mountain Home Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus since being named chairman of the House VA Committee.”
We are so blessed to have this VA facility in Johnson City and for our region — not just here, but the entire Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Western North Carolina region,” Roe said.
The Congressman also referenced some of the concerns that have arisen in recent years regarding the quality of care at VA medical centers around the country.
“We’re very fortunate here. We just saw the recent ratings the VA did. This VA, I would have been surprised had it not been rated well just because of the comments we hear from the veterans,” Roe said. “And, I’m not surprised the one in Murfreesboro was not rated very well because of the comments I’ve heard.”
“We have a lot of work to do,” he added. There is no reason in the world that we have three VA medical centers in the state of Tennessee with a 1 out of 5 rating. That is shameful. I’m going to commit myself to change that.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox