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One chair, thousands remembered

Jessica Fuller • Updated Dec 1, 2017 at 9:54 PM

An empty chair can carry a lot of meaning.

Across the country, the Chair of Honor program has established these empty chairs in stadiums, parks and town halls to honor the more than 80,000 soldiers left unaccounted for since World War I. Along with the Northeast Tennessee Chapter of Rolling Thunder, State Rep. Timothy Hill launched an initiative Friday to get a memorial made for northeast Tennesseans to visit. 

“When you start talking about supporting veterans, Northeast Tennessee leads the way with the veteran population with folks who live here who have served, and there’s no better way to show appreciation than with a permanent memorial,” Hill said at a press conference in front of Biker Wear in Johnson City.

“This is with a group of folks that we don’t know if they’re going to get to come home, and really it’s just as much about the family and friends and supporters and trying to let folks know that this is something that’s important.” 

Hill will introduce legislation for the memorial for 2018 to honor those service members classified as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action. The legislation will call for a chair in all Tennessee courthouses, including the Capitol Building in Nashville. 

Hill said the monuments will be privately funded. Chairs have already been placed across the nation, including in Washington, D.C., and several chairs are dotted around northeast Tennessee in Johnson, Sullivan and Carter counties. 

Attempts to pass similar legislation have failed in the past, and Hill said he was uncertain why. He vowed that he would do whatever he could to make sure the legislation passes this time around. 

“I feel like we have good momentum, especially with the placement of the permanent memorial on the U.S. capital grounds,” he said. “It’s a monument, but it’s also a constant reminder of the sacrifice that was made.”

Email Jessica Fuller at jfuller@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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