When Lt. Col. David Evans is at a high school football game, he knows how to spot a veteran. While they are either saluting the flag or have their hand over their heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, their left fist is to their side with their thumb out.
“It humbles me every time I see this,” Evans said as he discussed what being a veteran meant to those gathered for the annual Veterans Day celebration at the Blount County Courthouse. “Hundreds of thousands have made the sacrifice so that flag could wave.”
Evans, who is commander of the 119th Command and Control Squadron and a 1979 Friendsville High School graduate, addressed a standing room only crowd in the commission room at the Blount County Courthouse on Tuesday, Nov. 11.
Evans said veterans exhibit a willingness to serve and transform their purpose in life while serving. “Veterans are infused with a warrior spirit. This transformation is for a lifetime,” he said.
Often military personnel will miss the births of their children, anniversaries, birthdays of loved ones. The highest level of sacrifice is to give one’s life for the country, Evans said. “As long as people are willing to serve, willing to transform their lives, willing to make sacrifices for causes much greater than themselves, then this great nation will continue to prosper,” Evans said.
Chuck Langston gave the history of Veterans Day and shared his thoughts on the importance of veterans. “War is hell, and freedom is not free,” he said. “If you love your freedom, you should thank a vet.”
Jim Lawson gave a dissertation regarding the holiday. “Those who serve in uniform are the best our society has to offer,” he said. “We owe them our sincerest gratitude.”
Several veterans shared their thoughts on how important it is to remember the holiday and those it represents. Dave Alexander said it is important to celebrate the holiday annually. “It seems fewer and fewer remember each year,” he said.
Benny Kirby of Maryville said being a veteran becomes part of who you are after you serve your country. “It is what we are -- veterans,” he said. “We’ve done our part as veterans in service to our country.”
Ted Johnson of Maryville waved an American flag with an image of a Native American on it as he stood on the courthouse steps. Two members of his family have died in the military and 13 members have served. “My son-in-law and daughter are in the military now,” he said. “I always honor the military. I’ll always remember it, and I’ve never regretted serving.”