Many came with umbrellas in hand. Some did not, but all remained gathered around the memorial for a 40-minute ceremony honoring the men and women who have served in the U.S. military.
The call of duty not only affects those who enlist, but also their families, their homes and their lives, said Ernie Rumsby, president of the Tri-Cities Military Affairs Council. “These men and women don’t volunteer for the recognition, the fame or the honor we bestow upon them, ... they fight to protect our country and to maintain our way of life,” Rumsby added.
“The war on terrorism has helped us realize how truly unique the American way of life is. The freedoms we enjoy are extremely special and that’s why we must defend it,” Rumsby said. “Veterans Day isn’t just a day for veterans. It’s a day for all Americans. A day to remember why they were fighting and a day for us to begin our journey to protect our freedom for future generations.”
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.
The Kingsport Veterans Memorial honors Kingsport veterans, both living and dead, who served from World War I to Iraq and Afghanistan.
This Veterans Day is especially significant for the Model City as the Kingsport Veterans Memorial recently received a new addition — a bronze sentinel in the plaza area of the memorial.
The 6-foot-4-inch statue is meant to represent all branches of the U.S. military. Its backpack bears the name “Lane” in recognition of a local U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Master Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth Lane, who is currently battling ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
“Many on the Veterans Memorial Subcommittee had heard Ken speak with strength and honor about his family, his country and his Kingsport. So when Ken’s name was suggested, the committee searched no further,” explained Miles Burdine, president and CEO of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, of how Lane’s name came to be on the sentinel.
“He fought in Vietnam, he fought in Iraq and now he’s fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease for which there is no known cure. Yet, he has remained positive and strong for all who know him. If adversity is life’s greatest teacher, Ken is a star pupil.”