Senator honors veterans for service to country, community

As veterans, friends and public officials gathered to honor the service of vets to our country in the military, keynote speaker Sen. Doug Overbey also honored them for service after they came home.

Veterans served the country twice, once in the military and once at home, Overbey told the crowd at the Blount County Courthouse. They came home and became model citizens.

The senator was the keynote speaker at the 41st annual Veteran’s Day program at the Blount County Courthouse. Overbey said veterans lived out the values of duty, respect, integrity and personal courage. “Veterans continued serving long after they took off the uniform,” he said.

The state lawmaker shared a story of a man named David, one of those young men of the World War II generation, called the Greatest Generation by NBC anchor Tom Brokaw because of their sacrifice. “He did his job, paid his taxes, loved his wife, and served his country.”

Overbey said that David was his father, David Overbey, a veteran of both World War II and the Korean Conflict. “Most of you have never heard of David, but I’m proud of my father’s sacrifice to our home, his community and our family,”

The senator addressed a standing room only crowd in the commission room of the Blount County Courthouse on Nov. 11. He shared how in the past few years much has been done on the state level to show appreciation veterans. Lawmakers passed property tax relief for veterans and former prisoners of war. The state was also the first in the union to create a license plate honoring women veterans, he said.

“War is and always will be about courageous men and women fighting and defeating an enemy,” he said. “Every man and woman who risks their life for freedom or something good then himself is a hero.”

Overbey said the faces of those who have defended freedom have changed over the years. “I’m as moved by the men and women of our armed forces today as those I’ve studied from the past,” he said.

Overbey said veterans know what it means like to be in war and to risk their lives. “This knowledge is a special bond that enables you to look into one another’s eyes and know. When duty required you to stand in the line, you did,” he said.

Overbey told a story of a retired American school teacher who visited France and was treated harshly because he didn’t have his passport immediately available for inspection. The man told the French official he didn’t have to show a passport the last time he visited, but the official balked and said that couldn’t be true. “The American said, ‘The last time I was here I didn’t have to show one. When I arrived on Omaha Beach, there wasn’t anyone to show it to.’”

Overbey praised veterans and those who will one day be veterans. “The torch continues to be passed,” he said. “It’s passed to those defending against those who threaten our freedoms. We take this day to thank those who served.”

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