Occupation: Retired from Sears and Roebuck; Korean War veteran.
Family: Married to Shirley Cannon; son, Steve Cannon; and a daughter, the late Diane Cannon.
When John Cannon returned from serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Maryville had three red lights, two more than when he left.
The Veterans Bridge on Washington Street was new and drive-in theaters were growing in popularity.
But what stands out the most in Cannon’s mind is how veterans were treated here and around the country.
“People respected soldiers back then. When I went to church, several people invited me to go eat with them. You could put on the weight if you ate with all them,” he said. “About anywhere you went in the U.S., it was the same way if you were in uniform. We’d go through Detroit, and they’d let you go to ballgame free and buy you dinner.”
Cannon grew up in the Salem Community, 10 miles south of Maryville, off Morganton Road. “We had a Greenback address. We were farmers, and I went to the Benfield School and then to Friendsville High School but didn’t graduate.”
Cannon joined the U.S. Army at 19 and served in Korea during the war. He served with the 25th Division, 27th Infantry Regiment. “I was in combat for nine months,” he said.
After leaving the combat zone, Cannon spent a year serving in Germany. He left after earning the rank of staff sergeant. “I was discharged on Feb. 24, 1953,” he said.
Cannon did some farming, drove a school bus, and made a decision to get more education. He went to Chicago in February of 1954 to attend trade school on the GI Bill.
After school, Cannon took a job with Sears and Roebuck in Chicago, transferring to work at the Knoxville store in June of 1955. When he returned, he settled in Maryville where he and his wife raised a family. He retired from Sears after just over 34 years with the company.
Cannon enjoys attending the Memorial Day service held each year on the steps of the Blount County Courthouse. This year’s event is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 28, with a reception hosted by the Blount Memorial Hospital Auxiliary at 10 a.m. “Every year it means that the people still honor the veterans, dead or alive,” he said.
Here is John Cannon:
What is your favorite quote from television or movie?
‘“Go ahead, make my day,’ Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry Callahan in the movie, ‘Sudden Impact.’”
What are you guilty of?
“If I have a repair job, I take a long time thinking it out before starting to work.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“My large Case pocketknife my son gave me for Christmas. It is 10 or 12 inches long. You can’t fold it up.”
What are you currently reading?
“’Voices from The Korean War,’ by Douglas Rice.”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“Going from New York City to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. I went to Grand Central Station instead of Pennsylvania Station.”
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
“Live all my life. I’m 80, and I can’t go very many places because of my handicap. I have Muscular Dystrophy.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“Set in my ways and hard headed, at least that’s what my wife says. I guess when you have a whole lot of experience you get set in your ways and hardheaded. You don’t like to change.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“My personality. I have got a good personality, but, as you get older you get more agitated, especially when you run into people who ask silly questions and think they’re the smartest person around.”
What is your passion?
“Fishing, golf, and I used to bowl a lot when I was younger.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like have a long lunch?
“James Begley, a friend in service captured and killed in the Korean War. He was in the regiment right beside our regiment. We didn’t get overrun, but they did, and he was captured. “
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you like to visit?
“I would visit Korea in the summer to see the country and see what it looks like after the war. “
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“A box of cookies I got from my sister while I was in Korea. They were just sugar cookies, but they were very good. I had a squad of men, and I divided them up.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“Live a Christian life so others will look up to you.”
Other than your parents, who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
“My wife. She tries to keep me motivated, so I won’t sit around the house.”
Do you Myspace,Facebook or Twitter?
“No, just e-mail.”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“I worked the railroad docks for Sears in Chicago at 20 degrees below zero. In Korea, we had colder weather, but in Chicago, you had to stay on the dock for three hours before you had a break.”
What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon and why?
“’Pink Panther,’ and silent pictures with background music. I used to go to the Park and the Capitol Theater.”
What irritates you?
“Tailgaters, and people not giving turn signals. It drives me crazy.”
What’s one place in Blount County everyone should visit?
“Allison’s Fish Place and Park in Friendsville.”
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at 18?
“Join the military to get away from farming.”
What is your greatest fear?
“Dying at a young age with no one to take care of my wife.”
“I still can’t get the hang of …
“Operating my computer.”
If you could do one impulsive thing, what would it be?
“Take my wife on a train ride. I’d like to take a Canadian trip. I’ve seen it on television, and it is beautiful.”