(above photo) Y. T. Vaughn (left) and Joe Restivo (right), both veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars, ceremoniously carry a memorial wreath to the War Memorial Monument on the Murfreesboro square.
Sunny skies, temperatures in the 60s, a gentle breeze, blue skies and beautiful fall colors helped entice several thousand patriots to the east side of the historic Rutherford County Courthouse. It was a record turnout for flag waving. (photo below).
Myra Simons coordinated this year's Veterans Day Memorial Service, and Lieutenant Cole Powers served as the emcee. Cadets from Riverdale High School's Junior ROTC program presented the colors, and the Siegel High School band played the National Anthem and other patriotic favorites. Elementary students from the McFadden School of Excellence also sung several flag waving numbers.
It was moving as the Veterans Flag Presentation took place. Frank Hayes carried the Purple Heart flag. Edd Reader brought in the flag honoring the Disabled American Veterans. Both Hayes and Reader were World War II veterans. Vietnam Veteran Charles Griffith carried the American Legion's flag. While Vietnam Veteran George Hagglund brought forth the Veterans of Foreign Wars flag. World War II Veteran Fayne Haynes carried the POW/MNIA flag.
Story: A Soldier Changed My Life
The Veterans' Day speaker was Colonel Jeffrey L. Davidson, who this past April 29th became Rutherford County's first deputy to the county mayor.
He shared a moving story of how in 1997, another soldier impacted his life forever. Davidson had just returned from a six-month tour of duty in Bosnia. He was in the Second Command Tank Battalion at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was then Executive Officer Davidson, and was asked to re-energize the memorialization program there and to honor Sergeant Warren G. H. Creasy, who was killed during World War II. Creasy served in the Black Tank Squad, had several tanks blown-out from under him in World War II and earned a Silver Star. He also served in Korea and was promoted to the rank of major. While there he was hit in another tank, lost the lower part of his jaw, and died about a year later.
The project was well underway when Davidson realized a portrait of Sergeant Creasy was required. The fine print spelled-out that this artwork must be commissioned, and placed in the entry of the building. However adequate funding was not made available, nor was their time to get the painting completed.
Out of the blue, Sergeant Charles M. King entered and requested to help with the project. Davidson commented, "There are many opportunities to help. We will need to plan the dedication, make certain it runs smoothly, there are many ways in which you can help, and I'll put you at the top of the list."
Sergeant King responded, "Sir, that's not what I want to do. I'm an artist." He then showed a small sketch of a drawing of the late Sergeant Creasy.
Davidson asked, "Can you make a 24 by 36-inch drawing and have it ready in three-weeks?" (see above photo)
King replied, "Yes sir".
And Davison said, "You're hired!"
Nine years later, Davidson and King's paths crossed briefly in Iraq. The two had a small reunion, and went their separate ways.
Two-years after that, Davidson was back at Fort Knox and had been promoted to chief of staff. He had a copy of Sergeant King's drawing on the wall in his office.
Another soldier entered and commented, "Isn't that Sergeant King's drawing on your wall?"
Davidson nodded in agreement, and the soldier said, "You knew he was killed in Iraq?"
First Sergeant Charles M. King stepped forward and volunteered to take the place of another soldier's patrol. He was killed by a roadside bomb.
How Do You Thank A Soldier?
Colonel Davidson asked, "How do you thank a soldier who possibly delayed or gave-up a college education, waited on starting a family or a business career?"
He explained, "You can thank them by voting, being a good citizen, giving to others, caring for others, getting involved in your community, state and federal governments."
Listen To The Entire Program
The annual Veteran's Day Program on the Rutherford County Courthouse lawn took place Monday at 11am. If you missed the program and the live radio broadcast, listen back to it here.
Above photos: (left) Event Coordinator Myra Simons; (center) Lt. Cole Powers, emcee; (right) Civil Air Patrol, Smyrna Squadron's Joel and Sam Blackmon read the names of Rutherford County soldiers who gave the supreme sacrifice.
The day was also an opportunity to remind the public about special needs of former military. Obviously, there were those who were there to bring attention to Prisoner of War/Missing In Action, along with a large representation of Rolling Thunder.
(Right photo) Murfreesboro's Bob Mims stood out as the lone voice for PTSD Awareness. That's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the Kimberly Drive resident said that 22 veterans commit suicide each day.
The group's website: www.PTSDawareness.org suggests that . . .
We want to make a connection between our veterans and the
civilian community at large. The way we do this is by:
1) Having our veterans/disabled veterans develop organic, hydroponic,
aquaculture, and bamboo farms or any products that they might have made.
2) To show the public that veterans and disabled veterans can be successful
working in the civilian world.
3) To educate our veterans to make the transition back into civilian life and to become valued citizens in their community.
4) To aid and assist our veterans in benefits applications for VA claims or educational benefits.
5) To collaborate and work with local organizations, farmers, organic associations, community business leaders and any local community trade schools, colleges and universities to aid any of our veterans.
6. To have a funding program to support "Hope Farms" without taking any type of grant from the Federal Government. Our "Pay-It-Forward" program is in the development stage now. We will use this program to support each farm until it becomes a profitable farm in the local community.
For more information, go to www.ptsdawareness.org. By the way, the Murfreesboro resident founded the program.