The field next to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center gazebo was a populated place Monday morning, as hundreds from the community gathered underneath the large white canopy tent, or in a lawn chair close by, to honor those who served in the U.S. military.
The crowd was somber as they listened to Andrew Matthews, the National Cemetery director; Tim Shields, with the Chaplain Service; Dan Snyder, associate VA Medical Center director; and Charlene S. Ehret, VA Medical Center director, welcome guests to the Memorial Day Observance Program sponsored by the Mountain Home National Cemetery and the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center.
Numerous families were at the event to honor relatives who have served in the armed forces.
Chanelle Scown said she enjoys letting her kids engage in these kinds of events.
“It’s really nice to be able to take our kids there and for them to be able to participate and recognize all that the military does for our country,” Scown said. “Our kids enjoy wearing their flag shirts to support our country and we’re very grateful for all that the military does for us.”
She said the service is important to her family because her husband served in the National Guard for 10 years. She and her husband, now out of the National Guard, relocated their family of six three years ago from Utah to Tennessee.
To the left of the canopy, Department of Veterans Affairs and The Salvation Army mobile vans were present, as well as an American Red Cross tent.
The Salvation Army served up refreshments such as donuts, hot dogs, chips and coffee for those at the memorial service, and the bottled water was provided by the Piney Flats Ruritan.
Joshua Reed, assistant director of the homeless shelter with The Salvation Army, said the organization does a lot of work with the veterans’ community and the VA.
“Today is very much about remembering those who have served and those who have fallen in service of our country and we like to come out and honor them,” he said.
Reed, a U.S. Army veteran who served in the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq, said this memorial service holds special meaning to him.
“I was wounded there (Iraq), lost some good friends there and today is really just about everybody remembering their family members, their friends who have fought and died in service of the country,” he said. “I just think this is a really good way to honor them.”
The ceremony included a speech by Rolling Thunder Chapter 4 member Wayne Musick, a medley of patriotic songs performed by Eddie Shelton, and a wreath-laying ceremony.
The Shriners played the bagpipes, the Disabled American Veterans from Chapter 40 performed the 3-Volley Salute and the Science Hill High School JROTC Color Guard presented and retired the Colors.