All will convene for a shared belief — that the veterans of this nation, past and present, have earned the right to be set apart from all others.
It will happen on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the 11th year of the 21st Century. It is Bradley County’s annual Veterans Day program and we encourage local residents to attend.
Traditionally held at downtown Cleveland’s popular Johnston Park, Friday’s observance — for this year — will be hosted on the Bradley County Courthouse Plaza in order to share the stage with the dedication of the Blue Star Memorial Marker by the civic-minded members of the Aldersgate Garden Club.
It is an appropriate action because both events point directly to the role of America’s veterans in protecting the freedoms that have framed the core values of this proud nation.
Friday’s ceremonies truly will be a community endeavor.
The Cleveland High School band will play a patriotic medley until the program’s opening with the local tradition of ringing the plowshare by Eddie Cartwright. This will be followed by the call to order and posting the colors by Bradley Central High School Junior ROTC cadets. The CHS band will follow with the National Anthem.
The Rev. Ed Robinson, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, will lead the invocation. As a Vietnam veteran and president of the Bradley County Ministerial Association, he is an excellent choice. His prayer will be followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Katherine Dowdy, chairperson of the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs 3rd District Blue Star Marker program.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland will introduce dignitaries, one of whom is the keynote speaker — retired Army Col. Robert J. Jenkins, an ordained Church of God bishop who represented the denomination as its senior Army chaplain until his 2003 retirement.
The Blue Star Memorial Marker’s dedication to Bradley County will be made next by Charlotte Scott and Lelia Ware, Aldersgate Garden Club co-chairs. Joining them in the presentation will be Joyce Merritt, director, Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs 2009-10; Valerie Tipps, TFGC president; Jo Lawrence, state chair, TFGC District 3; Monique Lewis, director, District 3; and Billie Blair, president, Aldersgate Garden Club.
Friday’s emotional ceremony will include presentation of the Raymond H. Miller Patriotic Award by Korean War MIA/POW Bill Norwood.
Following remarks by the Cleveland mayor, and the benediction by Robinson, the observance will close with a 21-gun salute by the Bradley County Veterans Firing Squad, the playing of Taps by the CHS band and the JROTC’s retrieval of the colors.
Friday’s commemorations on behalf of Veterans Day and the Blue Star Memorial Marker are further testimony to that which sets apart our community from so many others.
We urge Cleveland and Bradley County residents to attend Friday’s heartfelt ceremonies.
Veterans Day is a significant tribute to those who do not shy from defending our country and the millions who proudly label themselves Americans.
We in this hometown community count ourselves among them.