Science Hill High School’s newly-created Alumni Memorial Circle
The names of nearly 40 Hilltoppers were on the minds of many Friday morning as the sound the sound of “Taps” rang out at Science Hill High School’s newly-created Alumni Memorial Circle.
In the center of the circle sits the Science Hill Veterans Memorial, which features the names of 38 veterans and alumni who were killed in battle.
A dedication ceremony for the memorial was held Friday, honoring the ‘Toppers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
As the names of the veterans were read during the ceremony, Bob Bagby, a member of the class of 1943, laid roses at the memorial in remembrance of his three classmates who were killed during World War II.
“It brings back lots of memories,” he said. “It’s nice to see them remembered.”
Bagby himself served during the war. He said he hoped the memorial would encourage future generations of Hilltoppers to take pride in their country.
Col. Michael Johnson, commander of SHHS JROTC, told the story of Homer L. Pease, an Army veteran whose name appears on the memorial’s wall.
Pease was just 13 years old when he enlisted to fight in World War II, according to Johnson. The veteran received many awards before returning to SHHS. Pease was killed in Vietnam.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is but one of the many stories embodied in this wonderful monument. This story and others simply must be remembered ... Theirs is a story worth permanent admiration as part of our collective heritage. They represent the best of the best and they are indeed worthy of this great honor today and forever,” Johnson said.
That’s exactly what project organizer and Science Hill alumna Theresa Billings hopes the community will take away from the memorial’s new home on campus.
“I think this new Alumni Memorial Circle will be a gathering place for students and for their families and for all alumni to come back to think about their high school days and to reflect upon the sacrifice these 38 young men have given to them for freedom and Science Hill is a wonderful school,” she said.
The project took more than two years to complete and was completely funded through donations from the community. The city of Johnson City, General Shale, Mitch Cox Companies, Snyder Signs, Rustic Ridge Landscaping and Tennessee Flag Co. provided materials and labor for the memorial.
Friday’s dedication ceremony featured a variety of speakers, including City Commissioner and SHHS Alumni Association President Jenny Brock, Johnson City Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin, and U.S. Rep. Phil Roe.
Board of Education Chairwoman Kathy Hall also addressed the crowd, saying it was important for today’s students to remember the past as they prepare for the future.
“It is so important that we also remember our past and those bright and shining students who left our halls to fight for their country never to return. It is an important reminder to our students that life is precious and so is our freedom,” she said.