Freedom’s story deeply vetted in local history

Published 4:49 pm Friday, September 17, 2021

The annual Overmountain Victory Trail Celebration will be held next weekend at Sycamore Shoals Park and will be highlighted by the crossing of the Watauga River Saturday at 2 p.m. — just as the Overmountain militia did 241 years ago.
The weekend of activities at the park will feature living history demonstrations at the encampment of the Overmountain militia before mustering for the trek across the mountains to meet Gen. Patrick Ferguson’s army at Kings Mountain, S.C. The encounter led to one of the most decisive victories of the American Revolution.
It was an event of historic impact; an event which was one of the major turning points of the Revolutionary War.
It was an event which put our patriotic pride on public display for all the world to see. It was an event which said to the rest of the world, “We will be free!” It was an occasion which history records as one of the major events which helped make us what we are today.
For many, the weekend celebration is the culmination of many, many hours of hard work, planning, and general preparation.
The celebration includes a lot of people, including park personnel, most of whom give up their weekend to present the various programs, which tell the story of the brave men and women who found freedom here along the banks of the Watauga River, and who were willing to give their all to keep that freedom.
Freedom has a price, but Americans have always paid. For those men and women who laid down their plows and left their families and traveled across the mountains to meet the British in 1780, they had much to lose if they did not fight. They had tasted freedom and they dared not lose it.
Since then, other Tennesseans have fought with the same courage and determination to keep America’s freedom. Many have died for the cause, the latest being Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, who was one of 13 U.S. service members killed by a suicide bomber from the Islamic state on Aug. 16 while they had been helping people escape Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of American troops.
Sgt. Knauss and the Overmountain Men as well as those names on the War Memorial downtown of men killed during World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan reveal the fiber of the people of this area and their willingness to fight and die for their homeland.
We hope next weekend you will take time to join the folks at Sycamore Shoals State Park to celebrate freedom and such legendary figures as Col. John Sevier, Mary Patton, Rev. Samuel Doak and others as they tell the dramatic story of the Overmountain Men and their quest for freedom.
Freedom has some deep roots right here on the banks of the Watauga River.