The Johnson City Community Concert Band directed by Lee Ruffin performs patriotic tunes to honor fallen American soldiers. (Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press)
More than 300 people, including veterans, their friends and families, filled the Jonesborough Visitors Center on Sunday to hear patriotic music and honor American soldiers who have died preserving the nation’s freedom.
“This is a very fitting opportunity to recognize our men and women who served our country and took an oath so that we could be free,” Jonesborough Alderman Adam Dickson said to the crowd. “We know that freedom is not free.”
Dickson said the 13th annual Veterans Memorial Musical Tribute allows Jonesborough citizens to gather in a way that shows they care about the struggles soldiers have endured to keep all Americans safe.
“The men and women who wore the uniform, they must have cared,” Dickson said. “They must have cared about freedom in this country. They were willing to go and serve.”
The presentation of the colors was performed by the Tennessee Highway Patrol Honor Guard and the Daniel Boone Marine JROTC Honor Guard. The Johnson City Community Concert Band played pieces of music that took the audience through an array of emotions.
Jonesborough residents Don and a very emotional Barbara Knight have attended the event before and said the music manifests the feeling of patriotism for them.
“They always have all of the service songs, which are very moving,” Barbara Knight said.
Beginning with nationally recognized pieces of music, the band encouraged veterans to stand as they played their respective branch of the military’s song. The performance continued with state-specific songs like “Tennessee Waltz” and “Rocky Top” before the colors were retired and taps was played.
Community Concert Band Director Lee Ruffin said he was happy to have his group perform in honor of some of America’s most outstanding citizens.
“I’m proud that we’ve got what we’ve got in America and I know that these men and women are the ones that got us here,” Ruffin said. “If we can give back to them and the community by playing music, then why not?”
Jonesborough Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Marion Light said he has been told the program soothes those grieving over lost soldiers.
“They find a little bit of solitude with the bands and the keynote speakers,” Light said. “A lot of people are able to say, ‘I was a part of that,’ and they were proud of just being a part of it, and that’s what we are hoping to accomplish.”
Light said the program is held for the living to celebrate the lives of fallen soldiers and to ensure there is time for remembrance of those lives.
“What we want them to take away from this is a celebration of these people’s lives because other than dying, they lived for certain things and stood for certain things,” Light said. “That’s what we want people to remember. This is about what they lived for.”
Don Knight said he takes time during the ceremony to remember friends he lost during the Vietnam War. He also likes the event because he finds comfort in a crowd that expresses its gratitude for the people who have died serving the country.
“It means a lot to me because I spent nine years in the Army,” said Knight, who has carried on a family tradition of military service. “I miss seeing a lot of people participate in patriotism. I get to see these folks that get out to participate, and I just love the patriotism.”