Veterans from all wars and anyone who wants to recognize them are welcome to attend the fourth Veterans Homecoming event at the Appalachian Fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday.
Sam Jones, one of the organizers of the homecoming and a Vietnam veteran, said this is the fourth Homecoming and visitors should find plenty of educational and fun activities.
Everything opens up to the public at 1 p.m. Friday. Various displays will be available for viewing, including a replica village similar to what American troops encountered during the Vietnam war, an exhibit detailing 100 years of American military history and plenty of military vehicles.
Also Friday, the Carter County Sheriff’s Office will do a demonstration with police K-9s.
“We’ve got lots of military vehicles, probably ... 15 displayed from Vietnam era all the way up to modern era,” Jones said. “So there’s a lot of educational things out here for them to do.”
Four entertainers begin performing at 6 p.m.
McKenna Andrews, Rockie Lynn, Hundred Acres and a group of Iraq war veterans from Nashville called Seventeen Stories will perform for those in attendance.
Fairground gates open at 9 a.m. Saturday. But the day will really start with a parade from Heritage Baptist Church across from Science Hill High School to the fairgrounds.
Parade participants will begin staging at the church at 9 a.m. The procession will leave at 11 a.m. en route to the fairgrounds.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, an opening ceremony will include a prayer by Fountain of Life Bible Church Pastor Vic Young, the national anthem and remarks by U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-1st), Tennessee Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Many-Bears Grinder and Mountain Home VA Medical Center Director Charlene Ehret.
Saturday afternoon, the ETSU Army ROTC Ranger company will demonstrate how to build a rope bridge and also how to field strip weapons.
Jones expects thousands of people to attend the free event.
The Veterans Homecoming committee is a United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration Commemorative Partner. This is in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the war in Vietnam.
This fact will be recognized in a ceremony Saturday.
At 6 p.m. Saturday, a special service honoring mothers of fallen servicemen and women will be held.
The Homecoming has been held previous years in June, but in 2012 temperatures were in the 100s. That is why it is being held in May this year.
“Not only is it special recognition for the Vietnam veterans but our group, our national motto is ‘Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another,’ ” Jones said. “And so at this event, part of the opening ceremony is we recognize (prisoners of war) and we’ll call out different conflicts from World War II all the way up to present day. This is a time for our community to stand up and give recognition to all of our veterans, not just the Vietnam (veterans) but to everybody, and say a big ‘Thank you.’ ”
For more information, visit vietnamveteranshomecoming.com.