By Rebekah Hurst, editor
Hundreds gathered in front of the Manchester Square at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11 to show honor and tribute to our community’s veterans during the 2015 Veterans Day Program. Bagpipe instrumentalists and the Coffee County Central High School ROTC led the processional March of Veterans, which also included WWII Veterans riding in a military jeep, from Manchester’s City Hall to the front of the Square.
Master Sgt. Tim Brown, U.S. Army Retired, began the ceremony with introductions before Sernobia McGee sang the “National Anthem” as representatives of the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department raised the flag. Samantha Watters, along with attendees, then sang “God Bless America”.
Westwood Middle School performed “Military Hymns”, paying tribute to each branch of military service and those represented were asked to stand and be acknowledged as their hymn was played.
State Representative Judd Matheny addressed the crowd saying, “Tennessee takes our veterans very seriously,” as he spoke of resolutions he hopes to get passed to help veterans in the near future with education and property taxes.
Levon Johnson performed one of his original songs, “Boys of 44,” bringing to life with his words a very vivid picture of history for those who’ve only seen war in the movies; and a haunting reminder for those who carry memories still.
The day’s event also included performances by two country music singers, Devon Hale and Charlie Allen. Hale sang “American Soldier,” and Allen performed “No Welcome Home.”
Afterwards, Brown led the Presentation of the Swords. This year’s honored recipients were, 1SG Lacy Bates, SFC Thomas Blake, SSG John Greeter, SGT Robert Warren, Tech 5 Marie Raresheid, CPL Ray Green, CPT Ben Reynolds, CPT Charles Sartin, SGT Virgil Owen, PFC Frank Parks, Tech 5 Stanley Bailey, PFC Ralph D. Sain, A1C David Murphy, P02 Jack Phillip Tarver, CPO O.J. McCormick Jr., CPL Brian James Schoff, and PVT Don Kimmons.
The only recipient who asked to speak, PFC Parks said, “I’ve really been touched by this program. I’m honored, it touched me real close.”
Tony Young was given the Navy Achievement Award and the Manchester Quilters Guild presented Paul Smith with the Quilt of Valor.
Afterward, unbeknownst to Brown, Buster Bush asked to speak and made a presentation to Brown, sharing with the attendees that it was he who organized and primarily funded most of the day’s program.
“Mr. Timothy Brown has unselfishly served his community and country in a combat situation over about a 24 month period,” said Bush. “Now, he personally plans, promotes and pays for the Veterans Day activities each year on Nov. 11. He truly is a doer, not a talker. Words do not do him justice.”
Moved, Brown simply responded, “I love the veterans, I love them all”.
Macy Tabor then performed “Come Home Soon,” “Travelin’ Soldier,” and “Soldiers and Jesus.”
Performances continued with “Amazing Grace” being played on the bagpipes, while wreaths were placed on the Square’s memorial monuments. Sernobia McGee, accompanied by Annette Veals and Shayna Brown, beautifully sang “How Great Thou Art” before “Taps” solemnly played in the distance. Singing a crowd favorite, Devon Hale performed “God Bless the U.S.A.” as the audience joined in. And as the sound of the bagpipes lingered in the air, the ROTC Retired the Colors before Pastor Lance Shelton closed the ceremony in prayer.
In reflection of the day’s ceremony, Coffee County Commissioner Diane Argraves said, “It was great to see so many people there to support our veterans. The reaction of the veterans during the ceremony was so moving.”
When asked his thoughts on the Veterans Day Program, Manchester City Mayor Lonnie Norman said “Veteran’s Day is an opportunity to honor the service men and women who are among us that currently serve or served in the military ranks. It is an honor to publically acknowledge our appreciation to them for their dedication to our Country, Constitution, and Rights. I personally salute them and whole heartily thank them.”