'The greatest place': Johnson City celebrates Veterans Day

Jonathan Roberts • Updated Nov 9, 2019 at 8:10 PM

Saturday’s Veterans Day parade in Johnson City is one Grand Marshal George Gough won’t forget.

“I can’t express it, I really can’t,” Gough said of what being the grand marshal meant to him. “It makes me feel wonderful and very appreciative … it makes me feel great.”

Gough, however, is more than just your average grand marshal. Having joined the U.S. Navy in December 1942, Gough is one of the few World War II veterans left — and one of just 22 who are part of American Legion’s Post 24.

The parade “is just an opportunity to come out and do things together,” said American Legion Post 24 Commander Byran Lauzon. “And you have to remember, we’re in Tennessee — we’re in Washington County — this is the greatest place to be. They love the veterans here.”

And as Gough’s Jeep pulled out onto the parade route, they were joined by familiar faces — nearly a dozen World War II-era vehicles driven by re-enactors from “A Walk In Their Boots,” a multi-era reenactment event held to educate the public on the history of America’s military.

“If you think about it, we have traditions for other holidays, but you’re often at a loss for Veterans Day; how can you commemorate Veterans Day?” said “A Walk In Their Boots” coordinator Jeff Campbell.

And though the American Legion’s Veterans Day parade is only in its second year after a decades-long hiatus, Campbell’s event has been held for the last eight years. It’s his way of giving back to the region’s veteran community, and to bring history to life for the younger generations.

“This event is, what we hope, gives a person a chance to (establish a Veterans Day tradition), educate their children and pay tribute to the soldier and live a little bit in their shoes — or walk in their boots,” Campbell said.

And while the parade down West Walnut Street was coming to a close, re-enactors at the Tipton-Haynes Historic Site were preparing for siege, with several German soldiers holed up in a cabin and some American soldiers encroaching on their position.

“We’re here to honor all the veterans from all the different wars,” said re-enactor Searel Patton, who was dressed as a German infantryman. “My father was in Korea, but I’ve always loved World War II history.

“It’s a very significant part of history,” Patton said.

More Veterans Day Events:

• Jonesborough’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen and Veterans Affairs Committee will host the 2019 Veterans Musical Concert on Sunday, Nov. 10, at 2:30 p.m. at the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center. In honor of Veterans Day, the event will feature the Tennessee Highway Patrol Honor Guard presenting and retiring colors, along with the Daniel Boone Marine Corps Junior ROTC.

Presenters will include Mayor Chuck Vest, Jonesborough Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Marion Light, and Jonesborough Operations Manager Craig Ford. Musical entertainment will be provided by the Appalachian Express Chorus. Taps will be provided by Jim Culp. The event will be followed by a reception that is open to the public.

• On Monday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m., area veterans organizations will conduct their annual Veterans Day ceremony commemorating the service of all veterans. The ceremony will be held at the Kingsport Veterans Memorial, 630 Fort Henry Drive. Kingsport Mayor Pat Shull will be the featured speaker.

Johnson City Press Videos