ROGERSVILLE — Those who have made the ultimate sacrifice don’t want us to dwell on the past or forever mourn them, but instead honor the sacrifice of their lives by moving on with ours.
That was part of the message delivered by retired Marine Col. Michael Manning, who was the keynote speaker for Monday’s Memorial Day service in Rogersville.
“They want us to continue on with our lives, to eternally remember the sacrifice they made,” Manning said. “They then know that their sacrifice was not in vain. We as Americans must always honor those who paid the ultimate price. We cannot allow future generations to allow those fallen to fade into the past.”
Manning added, “But we must always remember that those fallen are the reason for our freedom, for our very existence in some cases, and the very reason that we have such a great country.”
American Legion Post 21 Commander Dennis Elkins opened Monday’s service by reminding everyone the purpose of Memorial Day.
“Please remember why we’re here today, that is to honor the veterans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice here in Hawkins County and all over our country,” Elkins said.
“The names of each one is on our memorial who died in each war era in Hawkins County, and we’re so blessed that since Vietnam we’ve not had any members of our service who have been killed,” he said.
The opening prayer was led by Cassandra Palmer from American Legion Auxiliary 231.
She thanked Jesus for the freedom to honor our brothers and sisters who were willing to go to foreign countries to fight for our freedom to live and worship.
Palmer added, “Jesus, you gave our brothers and sisters a mind to stop what they were doing with their lives, put their family on hold, leave home and family, to go to the front lines of an unknown country and fight people that they did not know. This day is set aside for us to honor you and everything you have done.”
Posting of the colors was performed by a combined unit of Cherokee and Volunteer NJROTC cadets, followed by the lowering of the flag to half-staff by members of American Legion Post 21.
The national anthem was sung by Cherokee High School student Annika Blackburn, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, which was led by Shelby Helton from the Unit 21 Junior Auxiliary.
Manning, who was appointed Hawkins County’s veterans service officer last month, noted that while Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer and fun, many people don’t stop to think about what the holiday stands for.
He noted that for some people, like many of the veterans and their families in attendance Monday, Memorial Day marks a somber occasion that we are obligated to teach future generations.
“We need to make sure they understand the true meaning of this day and that it is absolutely never forgotten,” Manning said. “Today for many is a very emotional day that brings memories of fallen heroes, fallen family members, friends, relatives and loved ones. Those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the love of their friends and this great nation.”
He said it’s also a day for combat veterans like Manning to ask, why did so many die and, “Why oh Lord did you not take me instead?”
“Why were those very special souls taken from us far too early?” Manning asked. “Today is the day to honor and remember the fallen of Hawkins County, Rogersville and our country. Those who sacrificed their lives so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms that they do valiantly defended.”
Manning added, “I, like some of you, have witnessed those sacrifices up close and very personal. I would not be here today were it not for a Marine by the name of Pfc. Vincent E. Gammone, who simply looked at me. I put my hand on his shoulder, and he ran into the line of fire, sacrificing himself but saving my life. Those moments are never forgotten. We can never repay that debt so we must honor it.”
The service concluded with the reading of the names on the Hawkins County War Memorial, followed by the placing of wreaths by Auxiliary Units 21 and 231 and the Sons of the American Revolution, as well as placing of flowers by family, relatives and friends.
A rifle salute was performed by the Hawkins County color guard, followed by the playing of taps by ETSU student Chris Seals.
A video of Monday’s service can be seen in the online version of this article at www.timesnews.net.
KINGSPORT — The tennis courts at Riverview Park are being converted to pickleball courts.
Work to modify the courts began last week, and weather permitting, the project should wrap up by June 10, according to the city of Kingsport.
The courts are being converted into six pickleball courts with permanent lines, which will provide a venue for pickleball players while the courts at nearby Borden Park will be reserved for tennis only.
“Pickleball is a great sport for all ages and skill levels that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong,” said Kenny Lawson, Parks and Recreation program coordinator.
“The sport is popular among Kingsport residents, many of whom will hopefully enjoy the new courts once they are complete.”
For more information about Kingsport’s parks and recreational facilities, visit www.kingsportparksandrecreation.org.