Several Bradley County and Cleveland residents took time to pause and honor those who have served in the United States military during Monday’s Veterans Day celebration at the Bradley County Courthouse Plaza.
Nov. 11 was originally celebrated as Armistice Day, the agreement that ended World War I.
“There was more military loss of life in World War I than any other (war) on our planet,” retired U.S. Air Force Col. Donald Edmands Jr. said during his remarks Monday.
The Bradley County celebration takes place on the same date and time the Armistice was signed — Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.
The agreement was signed on Nov. 11, 1918.
After World War II, the commemoration was changed to Veterans Day.
“There are a lot of veterans in the group. We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before,” Edmands said.
He said if it were not for those who had fought in the American Revolution no one at the celebration Monday would be there. Edmands pointed to George Washington’s winter campaign in New Jersey as a turning point of the war.
“He came up with a bold plan to attack the Hessians. You know who the Hessians are ... they were German soldiers, the baddest of the bad,” Edmands said.
In the time of the American Revolutionary War, armies did not fight during the winter months. Instead they went to their winter quarters and waited for warmer weather to come.
Edmands said Washington took his men from Pennsylvania across the Delaware River to New Jersey and started a march to Trenton, N.J. Edmands said Washington divided his armies and was able to surround the Hessians and win the battle.
Supplies that Washington’s army took from the Hessians helped Washington’s army continue.
“This was a point to make or break the United States of America,” Edmands said. “Because on the streets of New York ... it was said, ‘We can win this thing. Washington has taken on the baddest of the bad and defeated them — we can win this thing’.”
This served as a morale booster encouraging more men to enlist in the Revolutionary army and serve.
Also during the day’s festivities, Joe Davis was honored as the recipient of the Raymond H. Miller award.
“That’s a mighty nice award. I wasn’t prepared for this. I don’t have anything to say except thank you,” Davis said. “The veteran community in Cleveland has always been an important issue in our office (the Bradley County Veterans Affairs office). We try to improve the veterans’ community in Cleveland every chance we get.”
A major project for Davis in recent years has been garnering support for the location of a state veterans home in Bradley County.
“Thank you, community veterans,” Davis said.
After the ceremony, Davis was surrounded by community members congratulating him.
“I’m very honored there are a lot of people more deserving then me, and the past recipients are very qualified, so I’m honored to be a part of that group,” Davis said.
As it has for a number of years, the ceremony began with the ringing of the plowshare by a member of the Miller family. David Maine III was the ringer this year.
“The plowshare seems to be a common farm implement with no significance, really, for wartime,” Maine said. “It was Nov. 11, 1918. The great war of all wars. A young lady in this town probably just four or five miles from here, caught wind that the Armistice had been signed, that the war was over, and she was so elated that her son Corp. Mack Miller was coming home that she didn’t know what to do.”
She channeled her excitement into ringing out the news on the plowshare. The same plowshare was rung at the Bradley County ceremony.
The farming implement is struck with a hammer to honor all veterans, those who currently serve and those who will serve.