KINGSPORT — It is soon to be the site of the future Kingsport Veterans Memorial. But even before the memorial is constructed, J. Fred Johnson Park will be home to a veterans tribute.
On Saturday at 11 a.m., the inaugural Veterans Day Celebration will take place on the site of the future memorial.
“We wanted to bring attention to the fact that the memorial will be there shortly, and also we wanted to consecrate the grounds,” said Kingsport Tomorrow Executive Director Susan LaGuardia. “This will really be a special place for veterans in the whole area. So that’s why we wanted to have the ceremony there this year.”
The celebration will be led by American Legion Post 3 in partnership with the Kingsport Veterans Project Committee.
The consecration of the grounds will be led by Dave Light, assistant city manager, and will be just one aspect of the approximately one-hour ceremony. All area ministers are welcome and encouraged to participate in the consecration ceremony.
Other highlights of the Veterans Day Celebration include the presentation of the colors by South High School Junior Air Force ROTC, an update on the building plans for the memorial, and a speech by Maj. Gen. Herbert McChrystal.
Vietnam Veterans of America, Kingsport Chapter 979, will conduct the POW/MIA Empty Chair and “We Remember” ceremonies.
In addition, Veterans Project Committee members will be accepting small notes or mementos, which will be included in the concrete base of the memorial. Those attending can also fill out applications to purchase pavers that will be placed in the “walks of honor” around the memorial.
LaGuardia said at this point fewer than 350 pavers remain available. After those are sold, no more will be open for purchase. Engraving of the pavers will begin sometime in January.
“Once they’re sold there is no room with the architectural design to add even one (paver),” said LaGuardia. “If people are thinking of buying one, we don’t want them to be disappointed. If they want to give them for Christmas gifts and can’t get all the information, they can actually go ahead and pre-purchase one to have a spot reserved. Then after Christmas bring us the correct information.”
Parking for Saturday’s festivities will be available in the Dobyns-Bennett High School parking lots, LaGuardia said. She added that some handicapped parking will be open near the memorial site. J. Fred Johnson Park is located near D-B on Fort Henry Drive.
For more information about the Veterans Memorial visit www.kingsporttomorrow.org.