Remembering those who paid the ultimate price for freedom

Published 4:50 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2022

One of the largest crowds to attend the Memorial Day ceremony at the Veterans Memorial and Walk of Honor did so to remember those Carter Countians that gave their lives so their friends and family could enjoy the freedom and liberty enjoyed today.

Elizabethton Mayor Pro Tem and Chairman of the Veterans War Memorial and Walk of Honor Oversight Committee Bill Carter welcomed those in attendance and recognized the work of several individuals and groups that made the ceremony possible.

State Sen. Rusty Crowe wasn’t able to attend due to prior commitments but as he has done in the past provided a new United States of America flag as well as a new POW-MIA flag that will fly for the next year over the Veteran’s Memorial.

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The Elizabethton High School Naval JROTC exchanged the old flags with the new ones as those veterans in attendance stood at attention and saluted as the flags were exchanged, raised, and lowered to half-staff in remembrance.

Reverend Ray Amos, the retiring pastor of First United Methodist Church in Elizabethton, provided the invocation.

Andy Wetzel, a Marine Veteran and Post Commander of the local Elizabethton VFW, presented the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag.

Loretta Bowers, a well-known local singer, provided a rendition of God Bless the USA followed by leading the gathering in the singing of the National Anthem.

Rick Walters followed with a Memorial Day Reading talking about the 13 American heroes who gave their lives when the United States was attempting to get Americans and as many Afghanistan people out of the country as the last Americans left that country in 2021.

A POW-MIA Remembrance Ceremony was conducted by David Batchelder who explained each element at the table.

– The table is round to show everlasting concern.
– The tablecloth is white symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve.
– The single red rose is a reminder of the lives of those Americans and the loved ones and friends who keep the faith, awaiting answers.
– The yellow ribbon symbolizes the continued uncertainty, hope for their return, and determination to account for them.
– A slice of lemon is a reminder of their bitter fate, captured or missing in a foreign land.
– A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of the missing and their families.
– The lighted candle reflects the hope in their return.

At the conclusion of the POW-MIA ceremony, the names of soldiers killed in action from Carter County were read via a recording produced by Tom Hitchcock by the Boy Scouts of America Troop 516 led by Scoutmaster Riki Dykes.

There were a total of 258 Carter County combat deaths listed on the memorials for each war. The breakdown is as follows:
– World War I – 49.
– World War II – 155.
– Korean War – 20.
– Vietnam Conflict – 30.
– Enduring Freedom – 3.

The Veteran Oversight Committee is composed of Michael Barnett, Bill Carter, Tom Hitchcock, Rick Walters, and Andy Wetzel.