Remembering those that gave the ultimate sacrifice… Memorial Day ceremony at Veterans War Memorial honors Carter County’s fallen

Published 3:19 pm Tuesday, June 1, 2021

While many millions of Americans were enjoying the day off thanks to the Memorial Day holiday, there were many throughout the country who gathered to truly remember what the day was about and that was to honor those who have given their lives in service to their country while on the battlefield of action.

Here in Elizabethton, a group of people gathered at the Elizabethton/Carter County Veterans War Memorial in downtown Elizabethton to honor those from Carter County that gave the ultimate sacrifice in support of their country.

It was an emotional time for some, especially those veterans who remembered their fallen brethren.

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“Since it’s Memorial Day, this is in honor of those individuals specifically here in Carter County that have given their lives – killed in action,” said Elizabethton Mayor Pro Tem and Chairman of the Veterans War Memorial and Walk of Honor Oversight Committee.

“We have sort of been shut down for the last year or so, so we thought this would be a good opportunity to set up a Memorial Day ceremony. We thought that this would be something special.

“The Veterans War Memorial and Walk of Honor Oversight Committee have put this together in grateful recognition of the supreme sacrifice of giving their lives for our country.”

There have been a total of 258 Carter Countians that have been killed in combat including 49 souls from World War I, 155 during World War II, 20 from the Korean War, 30 from the Vietnam conflict, and three from Enduring Freedom.

The War Memorial came about originally when a group of veterans led by Arthur ‘Deacon’ Bowers began to layout plans for the memorial.

It was completed in 2002 and the Walk of Honor has been ongoing with new names being added yearly.

Carter said the purpose of the Oversight Committee is to make sure maintenance is performed and we keep it standing tall in honor of those that were killed in action.

The ceremony included an opening invocation by the Reverend Raymond Amos, Pastor of Elizabethton First United Methodist Church.

Amos, a veteran himself a veteran, shared the pride of putting on his uniform for the first time while feeling his heart beat out of his chest and in his throat preparing to go down the path of the unknown along with others while being able to wear the same uniform back while others didn’t.

Carter led in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag followed by an emotional patriotic rendition of ‘America’ and the National Anthem by Teresa Bowen Parker.

Local businessman and veteran Rick Walters presented a Memorial Day reading. Walters also serves on the Oversight Committee.

A POW-MIA Remembrance Ceremony was conducted by Major Greg Tester.

The symbolism of the elements at the table was shared by Tester and include:

– The table is round – to show our everlasting concern.
– The cloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve.
– The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans….and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers.
– The yellow ribbon symbolizes our continued uncertainty, hope for their return, and determination to account for them.
– A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured or missing in a foreign land.
– A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families.
– The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return.
– The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
– The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share a toast.
– The chairs are/chair is empty – they are missing.

A recognition and reading of the names of soldiers killed in action from Carter County was recorded and produced by Tom Hitchcock and read by the Boy Scouts of America Troop 516 led by Scoutmaster Rikki Dykes.

The ceremony was completed by the playing of Taps as those veterans present saluted the flag and their fallen comrades.

“Carter County is a very veteran-friendly city as well as the county and with Tennessee being the Volunteer State, it takes great pride in defending our country and making sure that we are free,” Carter concluded.