Veterans and veteran organizations were well represented at Saturday morning's annual Veterans Day program at a new venue, the city's Square at 1st Street.Television anchor and an eight-year veteran …
Veterans and veteran organizations were well represented at Saturday morning's annual Veterans Day program at a new venue, the city's Square at 1st Street.
Television anchor and an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp. Reserves, Josh Roe, was the guest speaker and praised the local community for its service and assistance to veterans.
There were also some new faces among the presenters, as Cleveland's longtime Mayor Tom Rowland has given up service as the emcee of the Veterans Day and Memorial Day services after 52 years.
Rowland was replaced by Brandi King, the communications specialist with Cleveland's Whirlpool operations. King is also a former Chattanooga television anchor, and a Cleveland native.
Steve Stewart, who had coordinated the two veteran appreciation programs for a number of years, was the moderator for the final time. Stewart will be replaced next year by veteran Pedro Gonzales.
The highlight of the program Saturday was the presentation of the Raymond H. Miller Patriotic Award by Auxiliary officer Mary Baier.
This year's award went to U.S. Army veteran Glenn W. Slaughter for all he does to assist veterans and veteran organizations in the community.
There were two special presentations this year, one by State Rep. Kevin Brooks and a second by Mayor Rowland.
Brooks brought greetings from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
The governor said the state is in gratitude to every veteran in the state and nation for their service, and emphasized that Cleveland's annual program in a worthy observance.
Brooks added that the Veterans Day service allows Cleveland to be a "City With Spirit", and helps to make the community what it is today.
Rowland's presentation was a plaque of appreciation to Jim Burton of the Cleveland High Band, and band members. The band has performed for the two veteran services throughout Rowland, tenure, 52 years.
Rowland was also on the receiving end of an award. Program Chairman Steve Stewart recognized Rowland for his long service as the emcee of the two annual veteran programs.
Saturday's program included the annual Ringing of the Plow Share by Eddie Cartwright and his daughter, Jill. This is a tradition handed down in the Cartwright family from the end of World War I.
The U.S. Naval Cadets, Chattanooga Division, posted and retired the colors, the Cleveland High School Band performed for the 52nd year, the invocation and benediction came from Pastor Stan Gibson of Candies Creek Baptist Church, there was a 21-gun military salute from the Bradley County Funeral honor Guard, taps were played by members of the Cleveland High band prior to the retiring of the colors and there were a few words from U.S. submariners of the USS Haddo Chapter.
Cathay Pegram of the Cherokee Blossom Quilt Guide presented a Quilt of Valor again this year. The Quilts of Valor is a national program, which has awarded 166,000 quilts.
The recipient of the local Quilt of Valor this year was Donnie Hancock, the new commander of American Legion Post 81.
Comments from the current and former television anchors were eloquent .
King said, "I'm a little nervous, but I'll do my best. We want to recognize, and thank all of you veterans."
She went on to acknowledge many of the elected and veteran officials in attendance, and said she was honored to be replacing Mayor Rowland.
The focus of Roe's speech the stories of veterans, many that have never been told. He urged those in attendance to help in obtaining those untold stories for the future. "We have a mission (and responsibility) to tell these stories," he said.
Roe also had strong praise for the Cleveland/Bradley County community. "You do it right here in Cleveland," he said. "You are helping people out, especially these veterans, and when you help people, you get a lot out of it."
Roe closed by saying, "It's been an honor to be here in a community that is doing it right!"
The venue at 1st Street Square is new for the Veterans Day program, due to the recent fire at the Bradley County Courthouse.
The change in locations seemed to be well received, although there were a couple of mild complaints from surrounding merchants, concerned that parking spaces around the city park were taken up.
Stewart said he has enjoyed his years of coordinating the veterans programs, adding that he thinks his replacement, Pedro Gonzales, "Will do a great job."
Three of the community's most distinguished veterans, George Allen, Bill Norwood, and Jack Murphy, were in attendance Saturday.
The community's next program to appreciate veterans will be the annual Pearl Harbor Day recognition at the Cleveland Elks Lodge, sponsored by the Sons of the American Revolution.
Allen, mentioned above, is the community's final Pearl Harbor survivor.
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