As many as 20 local residents turned out last Sunday for the placement of flags on gravesites in the Bradley County Veterans Cemetery at Fort Hill, a prelude to the annual Veterans Day ceremony at the Bradley County Courthouse Plaza on Monday.
Some 400 flags were placed on the graves by members of the local AmVets chapter, the Bradley County Veterans Services Office and the Daughters of the Confederacy.
This tradition of placing flags in the Veterans Cemetery began more than 10 years ago, when AmVets Commander Daniel Knoob was visiting his father's grave in the cemetery, and realized no flags were displayed.
He and AmVet members have since placed the flags at the cemetery on Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
John Thomason, a local veterans advocate and member of the Bradley County Veterans Funeral Honor Guard, has since joined Koob and the AmVets in helping to coordinate the flag placement, and they have added other volunteers from local veteran organizations.
Thomason emphasized the placement of flags for Veterans Day this year is also a prelude to the community's first-ever participation in the national Wreaths Across America program on Dec. 14.
In the past, local veterans and veteran organizations have participated in the Wreaths Across America ceremony, to honor deceased veterans, at the National Cemetery in Chattanooga.
This first local ceremony is being called the William "Bill" Norwood Memorial Wreath Ceremony in honor of the late veteran, a P.O.W. in the Korean War.
Norwood, who spent 28 months in a Chinese Communist prison camp, was honored recently when a bridge over the Hiwassee River in Reliance was named in his honor. The effort was initiated by the Polk County AmVets, and several members of his family. Norwood grew up in Reliance.
In talking to the Sunrise Rotary Club recently, Thomason said, "This is going to be a foundational work to take care of our Veterans Cemetery with a wreath-laying ceremony every year."
There are currently 261 veterans, and their spouses, resting in the Veterans Cemetery, and it is one of more than 2,000 cemeteries participating in Wreaths Across America this year.
The community is being asked to assist by raising $3,900 by Nov. 30, for wreaths.
You can sponsor a wreath, the amount starting at $15 each, or sign up to volunteer for the Dec. 14 event online at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/TN-BRAD.
You can also call 877-385-9504 for more information.
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