VVA holds Veterans Day memorial service

THORN HILL – Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter 1073 held a Veterans Day memorial service at Clinch Mountain Veterans Overlook Saturday, November 7. 

The event was held in recognition of all veterans who served America and to dedicate a monument honoring East Tennessee veterans who served in Vietnam. The event opened with a bugle call by Fred Morrell and the Pledge of Allegiance. 

U.S. Congressman Tim Burchett shared a story of his father serving in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He said when his father returned home, the government did not provide the care he needed. He said his father had internal scars from his service and he would often have to wake him by his big toe because he was unsure of where his father would be in his mind. Burchett said the government had mistreated its veterans and he wanted to welcome them home.  

“As a Christian, I owe the men and women that wore our Country’s uniform everything I have in my life but my salvation,” said Burchett. 

Air Force Veteran Robert Russell said there were special times in a person’s life. For most veterans, it was receiving an induction notice to become part of the United States Armed Forces. He said each veteran eventually visited an intake center and raised their hands to take an oath to support America and its flag. He said he believed most veterans would return to service today if needed. 

Russell said Vietnam changed the veterans who served there. He said veterans returned battered and scarred only to see their brothers-in-arms die from causes related to their time in service, such as Agent Orange, a tactical herbicide chemical used as part of the Vietnam War chemical warfare program Operation Ranch Hand. 

The Vietnam Service Ribbon flag is located at the top of the monument on Clinch Mountain. The ribbon was modeled after the flag of the Republic of Vietnam, which ceased to exist in 1975, and has been awarded to 3.2 million military personnel. Russell said the number of personnel remaining is approximately 800,000. 

Hamblen County State Representative Rick Eldridge and District 1 State Senator Steve Southerland expressed thanks to the veterans for their service. Army Veteran Jack Weidman expressed thanks to Grainger County for allowing VVA to place the memorial at the Veterans Overlook.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial can be found beside the Prisoner of War Memorial at Clinch Mountain Veterans Overlook.