ERWIN — On his travels to and from Florida, Sam Sproles took note of something that he kept seeing along the way — something that he wanted to bring to his hometown.
Sproles, a member and past commander of American Legion Unaka Post 25, said he noticed many areas along this route that were designated in honor of veterans. He eventually proposed to fellow American Legion members the idea of having a portion of Erwin designated to honor veterans. This proposal, he said, was met with agreement by others in the post.
“Our American Legion Post just felt it would be an honor to honor all veterans that have served in our country and that it would just be an honor to be able to do that for all branches on service, past, present and future,” Sproles said.
Post 25 now has 10 brown signs that read “Veterans Drive” that it feels will accomplish this tribute. The signs will be placed along Elm Avenue in Erwin starting where it intersects with North Main Avenue and ending at an appropriate location near the Unicoi County Veterans Memorial Park.
Although the Veterans Drive signage should soon line Elm Avenue and the road will be designated as such, Sproles said it would not lead to any change for those living or doing business along the street.
“There won’t be any address change or anything,” Sproles said. “This is just a designation to honor veterans.”
American Legion members were on hand at a July meeting of the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen, in which the board discussed and unanimously lent its support to the undertaking. Sproles said the town will supply the posts and labor necessary to install the signs, adding that the American Legion is “very appreciative” of the town’s support.
The Unicoi County Commission recently voted to designate a portion of Interstate 26 in the county as a Purple Heart Trail to honor military veterans killed or wounded in combat. This, coupled with the American Legion’s undertaking, should display Unicoi County’s patriotic spirit to visitors, Sproles said.
“I personally think it’s great to honor the veterans because we’re free today because of veterans. ... I just felt like it was something that would be worthwhile for our community and to let people know all over, or anyone that comes to Unicoi County as a visitor and a tourist, that we honor our veterans,” Sproles said.