State Sen.-elect Todd Gardenhire and State Reps. Eric Watson and Kevin Brooks, along with Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, attended the event. Retired U.S. Navy Capt. Kim Parker gave the keynote address.
“One of the things I have been pleased to see this Veterans Day is less and less of the tattered and worn-out American flags on the flag poles,” Parker said. “[Clean and crisp] is how Old Glory is supposed to fly.”
Parker received his Navy commission in July 1982. He served for 29 years. During this time, he received a list of medals, including: Defense Superior Service medal, Legion of Merit (three times), the Defense Meritorious medal (two times), and the Navy Achievement medal.
Veterans lay the foundation for those who follow, Parker said.
“The events of 9/11 focused our nation, but there is still work to be done. That focus came on the cusp, I think, of a lot of the good work previous veterans completed,” Parker said.
Soldiers are slowly returning home from postings in the Middle East. According to Parker, they need support.
“I prayed we would have the courage to pursue this foe [9/11], and the wisdom to know when it is time to stop. I think we are in that stage now,” Parker said. “America is about being proud of our country and continuing the tradition for those who follow us. Our men and women who return now deserve to see those bright flags. They deserve to see a nation who is ready to bring them back.”
Returning soldiers need to see the home fires have not gone out, Parker said.
“We need to maintain our focus for those returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, and those who have had boots on the ground nobody is talking about. They deserve our support,” Parker said. “As they come home, we continue to set the example for them as they learn to make their way through civilian life.”
According to Parker, this focus is made possible by the veterans who came before him.
“These heroic men and women survived unimaginable battlefield hardships and then they worked together and overcame the most unimaginable hardship at home,” Parker said. “Their work and sacrifice made the United States the best possible place to be for myself and those who served the last 30 years.”
Parker ended his speech on a word of thanks.
“So veterans, I thank you for your steadfast faith. I thank you for maintaining our way of life and for your service to our country. May God bless you and may God bless America,” Parker said.
Distinguished veteran Terry Avery was recognized during Monday’s ceremony. He was chosen to be this year’s Raymond H. Miller Patriotic Award recipient. Avery could not attend the ceremony due to doctor’s orders.
“Terry has dedicated hours of his time to support veterans and active-duty soldiers. ... He was instrumental in upgrading the veterans section of the Fort Hill cemetery. ... That particular cemetery was in serious disrepair and it broke Terry’s heart, as well as several others in this room today,” said Mary Baier, presenter of the award.
Bill Norwood accepted the award for Avery.
“Terry is most deserving of this award. He always wants to be in the background,” Norwood said. “It is a pleasure to accept this award on his behalf.”
The U.S. Naval Sea Cadets, Chattanooga Division, presented and retired the colors at the beginning and end of the ceremony. Cleveland High School’s band was unable to make it to the change in venue. Rowland noted this was the first time in years the band was unable to participate.
A 21 Military Rifle Salute was carried out by the Bradley County Veterans Firing Squad.