Bradley County Veterans Affairs officer Joe S. Davis was named recipient of the Raymond H. Miller Patriotic Award during today’s annual Veterans Day Ceremony on the Bradley County Courthouse Plaza.
Davis, who works in the position closely with Larry McDaris, Veterans Affairs Office executive director, served in the U.S. Army on active duty from 1970 to 1975. He then served in the Tennessee National Guard from 1975 to 1995 as a helicopter pilot.
He completed flight school in 1972, and an armor advanced course in 1985. He went on to complete Command and General State College in 1990.
Since 2007, Davis has served in the Bradley County Veterans Affairs Service Office. The office helps veterans, their dependants and survivors.
Davis became an American Legion officer in 2009 and continues to hold that title.
He serves on the Tennessee State Veterans Homes board, a position to which he was appointed by the governor. The board was created to oversee the operation of public veterans homes across the state. The board is also involved in establishing new veterans homes in Tennessee.
According to the nomination application, “The candidate has worked tirelessly with great dedication to locate a state veterans home in Bradley County to offer intermediate and skilled levels of nursing care to Tennessee veterans who have honorably served our country and are now in need of long-term care.”
Davis serves on the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council and has been a part of many fundraising endeavors. He has also solicited corporate donations.
A Polk County High School graduate, Davis completed his bachelor of science in animal science in 1970.
Most recently, Davis was a guest speaker at Friday’s annual Veterans Ceremony held at E.L. Ross Elementary School. Each year, the primary school honors students’ family members who are veterans. In one of his roles at the observance, Davis read the names of the veterans who attended the school function.
The winner of the Patriotic Award is kept a secret from the recipient until the day of the Veterans Day Celebration. The selection committee reviews the applications of those nominated to find veterans who have served their country as well as their community.
This year the award received 11 nominations, according to award chairwoman Mary Baier. She said the committee traditionally receives from five to 10 nominations each year.
The Raymond H. Miller Patriotic Award has been given on an annual basis since 1980.
In a related development, several local officials — including elected government leaders — joined the masses of Americans today in observing Veterans Day. Several had plans to attend various ceremonies today, especially the community’s primary observance held downtown at 11 a.m.
One community message came from state Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, who represents the 22nd Legislative District which includes Bradley, Meigs and Polk counties.
In his emailed tribute to area veterans, Watson offered:
“Veterans Day is one of the more unique occasions of the year. It marks a special time where we, as a nation, have the opportunity to thank those who have served as well as honor those who have given their all for the freedoms we hold dear. Across the land and throughout the world, Americans will pause today to honor our brave fighting men and women who have safeguarded our freedom with their selfless service.”
The state legislator’s message added, “All of us have a simple, heartfelt message for our veterans: thank you. With courage and honor, they have defended this country and made it the great nation it is now. Our veterans have never sought fame or fortune. Instead, they served out of love for country. In doing so, they have defined the word ‘hero.’ We all know our world needs more heroes. America is gifted with innumerable examples of heroic individuals and they have inspired countless souls around the globe. And that is why our nation set aside this day to thank those who have a legacy that is unmatched in human history.”
Watson encouraged local residents to turn out for today’s various Veterans Day activities, and he closed, “So let us truly appreciate these citizens of service, not just today, but every day. They set the standard for being an American and all of us should be grateful to them. For without the bravery they have so honorably displayed, America would no longer be the last best hope for mankind.”
Another tribute to area veterans, as well as to those from across Tennessee and the nation, came from state Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, who represents the 24th Legislative District.
“Today we salute our veterans,” Brooks said. “Thank you for your service to our city, state and nation. We pause this Veterans Day to thank you for protecting our freedom, which is never free. Truthfully, although we set aside this special day of Nov. 11, we should actually thank our veterans every day. Because every day, on every continent, at every hour, there are men and women willing to lay down their lives for you and for me; to protect and defend what we so often simply take for granted.”
Brooks added, “As for me and my family, we thank all our Armed Forces men and women, both past and present. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville who was preparing to speak at a Veterans Day observance early this morning at Englewood Elementary School in McMinn County, offered his gratitude as well to veterans.
“God Bless to all our veterans and their families on this Veterans Day!” Bell stated. “Thank you for your service and for all that you have done, and continue to do, for our country. Our country, and our communities here in Southeast Tennessee, are proud of our veterans and for all they have done — both now, and in the past, as well as in the future.”
Bell added, “Without veterans, there would be no America. And without America, the torch of freedom would not shine a light for others to follow.”
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis and Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, each of whom was scheduled to speak at today’s Veterans Day Ceremony in downtown Cleveland, offered messages of appreciation as well in advance of today’s Courthouse observance.
“As Americans, we could not enjoy the blessings of freedom and liberty without the service of these men and women fulfilling an extraordinary duty,” Davis said. “On Veterans Day, we remember and honor all those who wore the uniform. Their quiet courage, sacrifice and commitment deserve our deepest appreciation and respect!”
Rowland offered his perspective.
“To the wounded warriors among us who are recovering from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan; to those who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and other dangerous places in the world, and to all who joined our armed forces and stood ready if called, we say thank you for your service,” Rowland stressed.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, also offered a few thoughts on America’s veterans.
“It is humbling to be in the presence of our nation’s veterans and active duty service members, and I feel like the best way I can honor their service and their families’ sacrifices is to wake up every day working to solve the big problems facing our nation to ensure the continued greatness of the country they have fought to protect,” Corker said.
Over the past year, Corker’s office, working in partnership with members of the Tennessee congressional delegation, local officials and veterans service organizations, organized a series of “Rally Point” events to provide veterans and their families with a one-stop shop to access local resources. Close to 1,500 Tennesseans have attended Rally Point events in Knoxville, Cookeville, Jackson, Gallatin and Chattanooga.