Veterans Day ceremony showcases new Walk of Honor bricks and flags
Published 5:57 pm Friday, November 11, 2022
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BY ROBERT SORRELL
Standing in front of a newly unveiled section of the Elizabethton Walk of Honor, First Sgt. Craig Wilcox on Friday morning recognized the sacrifices veterans make every day.
“The service of America’s veterans never truly ends,” said Wilcox, who spoke during a Veterans Day ceremony at the Walk of Honor in downtown Elizabethton. “Even when they hang up their uniform for the last time, many still chose to protect us.”
About 25% of law enforcement officers in the United States have a background in the military, according to statistics from the U.S. Justice Department, Wilcox said.
The retired Marine Corps veteran recognized several local veterans, including Elizabethton Fire Chief Barry Carrier; EFD Battalion Chief Andy Wetzel, who also serves as commander of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post; Carter County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Patrick Johnson; and Harold McCormick Elementary School Principal Eric Wampler.
There are currently about 19 million American veterans today, Wilcox said.
“Bravery and dedication to the community are common among our veterans,” said Wilcox, who added that many examples “of this selfless service” can be found in Elizabethton.
Wilcox noted that veterans often face issues with mental health, health care and other problems.
“The stigma for seeking help needs to end,” said Wilcox, who added that the suicide rate among veterans is high compared to other occupations.
He added, “For many of them, this nation was worth enduring long separations from their families, missing the birth of their children, freezing in sub-zero temperatures, sweating in the Sahara, sacrificing their health and far too often, losing their lives.”
Wilcox spoke in front of a new section of the Walk of Honor, a brick wall that features hundreds of names of local veterans.
Elizabethton Mayor Pro-Tem Bill Carter, a member of the Elizabethton Veterans Oversight Committee, said the Walk of Honor now contains 5,916 names. Phase 3 of the construction provided space for 261 bricks. Less than 100 names could be seen Friday during the ceremony.
Carter said several organizations and individuals have assisted with the latest addition, including brick mason Charlie Hayes, masonry brick and mortar provided by General Shale, flag donations by Sen. Rusty Crowe, storage and warehouse space provided by Mapes Piano, bricks by Hitchcock Monument, logistics help provided by Danny Hilbert and the Elizabethton Street Department, and assistance provided by City Engineer and Programs Manager Matthew Balog.
The ceremony also included the unveiling of new American and military flags from Crowe. The U.S. Navy National Defense Cadet Corps from Elizabethton High School raised the flags as Loretta Bowers led the singing of the national anthem.