Richard Brooks holds an Honor and Remember flag during Monday's ceremony at the Kingsport Veterans Memorial. David Grace photo.
KINGSPORT — Lt. Col. Dan Bishop, professor of military science at East Tennessee State University, offered a Veterans Day message of remembrance and history on Monday and asked the more than 100 people in attendance to reflect on the sacrifice and service of American veterans.
Bishop delivered the keynote speech at a Veterans Day observance at the Kingsport Veterans Memorial on Monday. American Legion Post 3 and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 979 hosted the event.
Veterans Day is an annual U.S. holiday honoring military veterans with ceremonies typically held at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — the official ending of World War I. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed the holiday in 1919 — then called Armistice Day — to honor the veterans of WWI. President Dwight Eisenhower expanded the holiday to include all veterans.
Despite cool and windy conditions, Kingsport’s event brought out veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We gather here today to pay tribute to America’s veterans,” Bishop told the audience. “It seems with each subsequent generation America’s sons and daughters are called upon to defend the values that we hold dear. Out of every generation, there are those who answer that call, who step forward and are willing to lay down their lives for those values. Many of you here today answered that call.”
Bishop told the veterans in attendance they took on a responsibility for their generation to preserve our freedom and way of life.
“You became part of something bigger than yourself, you served as a guardian of freedom and democracy and you declared that no foreign enemy would bring harm to your country ... without coming through you first,” Bishop said.
The roughly 40-minute observance included the presentation of colors, the singing of the National Anthem and the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. A singing ensemble of fourth- and fifth-graders from Washington Elementary School — called “The Troop” — sang a number of patriotic songs during Monday’s observance.
Bishop said Veterans Day is still important today, especially given that fewer and fewer of our citizens make the decision to wear the uniform of the U.S. military.
“There was a time when service in the military was not uncommon. One out of six of our population has served in the military, but things are changing,” Bishop said. “Not so long ago people knew someone who is a veteran. Today, less than one percent of the population will ever wear the uniform, and for some people the only impression they’ll have of the military is a depiction in movies and on television.”
As with previous observances, the VVA performed its missing man ceremony to remember the more than 83,000 Americans still missing from World War II to the present conflicts in the Middle East. The observance concluded with a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps.”
“On this day set aside to honor their service, let us reflect on the sacrifice and selfless service of our veterans throughout our history,” Bishop said. “The soldiers serving today are carrying on the tradition of professionalism and bravery established by those who came before them. Let us recall their sacrifices.”