Haslam signs local lawmaker’s bill honoring POW/MIAs

Published 9:38 am Thursday, May 3, 2018

A bill by a local lawmaker seeking to honor a group of veterans who are all too often forgotten has cleared the final hurdle and was signed by Governor Bill Haslam on Tuesday.

At the beginning of the 2018 legislative session, State Rep. Timothy Hill introduced a bill that would install on the grounds of the state capitol a Missing Man Chair honoring prisoners of war (POW) and those listed as missing in action (MIA). The memorial will be paid for through fundraising efforts and not with the use of state funds.

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“This is something that should have been done a long time ago, but has somehow been overlooked,” Hill told the Elizabethton Star in January after introducing the bill. Hill worked alongside members of Tennessee Rolling Thunder to draft and garner support for the bill.

All three counties which Hill represents — Carter, Sullivan, and Johnson — have Missing Man Chairs on the lawns of their respective courthouses. Hill also noted a Missing Man Chair had been placed in Washington D.C. honoring POWs and MIAs.

The legislation passed both the Tennessee House of Representatives and the Senate unanimously. Haslam signed the bill on Tuesday, giving the final needed approval for the project to get underway.

“We’re very excited about that,” Hill told the Elizabethton Star on Tuesday. “We will begin the fundraising efforts. We have one year to raise the money to cover the cost of the installation.”

At this time, Hill said, the final cost for the project is not known because they must first come up with the design for the memorial. The way the legislation was written, Hill said, gives them some leeway with the design for the adding of flags and other similar items.

“We have to make a decision on what we want to do with it,” Hill said.

Hill said there is still a lot of work ahead for the project, but he, members of the Rolling Thunder, and others are ready to get started. He said once a cost for the project is known, he will make an announcement regarding fundraising for the memorial.