Memorial Day draws crowd for ceremony at courthouse

A crowd gathered at the Blount County Courthouse on May 23 to honor those who have fallen in defending freedom and to remember those veterans who have died since last Memorial Day.

Charles Staley with the Blount County Veterans Affairs organized the annual event in conjunction with United Veterans groups.

“The entire program went very, very smoothly. There were quite a number of folks in attendance. We called off the names of the veterans who had died from last Memorial Day to this Memorial Day,” he said. “It is a tradition we’ve been calling the names for probably the last 10 to 15 years of veterans who have passed.”

Staley said some parts of the program, like 21-gun salute by the volunteer honor squad, have a been long tradition. In most recent years, ROTC units from William Blount and Heritage high schools have helped put on the program.

Staley said this is his 25th program acting as service officer for Blount County Veterans Affairs. His office and United Veterans groups make all decisions relative to the event. “The program went very, very well,” he said.

Blount County Assistant Chief Deputy Jimmy Long, who is command chief master sergeant for the 134th Air Refueling Wing, was speaker at the event.

“I felt it was an honor to be asked to speak,” Long said. “When Charles Staley asked me to represent the airmen of the 134th and McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, I was honored,” he said. “Memorial Day is many times an overlooked holiday, and it is a truly solemn holiday when we think of those who sacrificed for our freedoms.”

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