There will be some major changes at this year's annual Veterans Day program on Saturday, with a focus on some younger veterans and program participants.Longtime master of ceremonies and Cleveland …
There will be some major changes at this year's annual Veterans Day program on Saturday, with a focus on some younger veterans and program participants.
Longtime master of ceremonies and Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland will no longer be a regular participant. This is the final year veteran Steve Stewart will be coordinating the activities.
"I have enjoyed serving the veterans and citizens of Cleveland and Bradley County," said Stewart.
There will also be a change of venue this year, with the 11 a.m. Saturday program moving to Cleveland's downtown Square at 1st Street — just off Inman Street and near the Elks Lodge.
The move is due to the recent fire at the Bradley County Courthouse, and some veterans and other officials are displeased by the move — since the regular display of flags will not be available at the 1st Street Square location.
This year's program is also leaning toward youth. The keynote speaker will be television journalist and Channel 9 news anchor Josh Roe.
Roe grew up in West Tennessee, is a University of Tennessee graduate, and spent eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps before going into television.
The relatively young news anchor and veteran previously worked in Knoxville, Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, and Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids, Mich.
He said his time with the U.S. Marines Corps created a passion for veteran issues, and telling stories of heroes who have placed their life and health on the line while fighting for our country.
When not working, Roe enjoys reading, running and spending time with his wife and their dog. He has been with Channel 9 for more than four years.
Much of Saturday's Veterans Day program will remain the same, including the ringing of the plowshare by former Bradley County Executive and now Cleveland Utilities board member Eddie Cartwright.
This is a tradition handed down in Cartwright's family, which began with the conclusion of World War I.
Although Mayor Rowland will not be serving as the master of ceremonies, he is scheduled to make a special presentation.
The highlight of this Veterans Day program, as it has been in the past, is the presentation of the Raymond H. Miller Patriotic Award. Veteran Mary Baier will make this announcement.
Replacing Rowland on the program will be Brandi King, senior communications specialist with Whirlpool USA. The chaplain will be the Rev. Stan Gibson of Candies Creek Baptist Church, who will provide the invocation and benediction.
King is a Bradley County native, and also a former television news anchor for Good Morning Chattanooga.
The Cleveland High School Band will open the program with a patriotic medley, and provide other musical offerings. The band, under the direction of Jim Burton, has participated in the Veterans Day program for 52 years.
The U.S. Naval Sea Cadets, Chattanooga Division, will present and post the colors, and King will have opening remarks and recognize visiting dignitaries, prior to Roe's speech.
Baier and Rowland will make their presentations, and the day's program will be concluded by a military rifle salute by the Bradley County Funeral Honor Guard, under the direction of veteran Roy Smith.
Stewart,who is stepping down at the end of Saturday's program, will recognize his replacement for future Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs — veteran Pedro Gonzales.
"I have faith that Pedro will do a great job," said Stewart.
Veteran and auxiliary leaders who are expected to attend the program are Bradley County Veterans Service Officer Larry McDaris; Nay Rogers, commander of VFW Post 2598; Donnie Hancock, commander of American Legion Post 81; DAV Chapter 25 Commander Bill Gray; James Dean, president of Vietnam Veterans Chapter 596; AmVets Post 13 Commander Jim Johnson; Jim Clines Sr., president of the Sons of the American Revolution Chapter; Chef De Gare of Voiture 735 of the 40/8 Mike Dickey; Sons of the American Legion Chapter 81 Commander Maurice Suits; Tonia Leonard, president of VFW Post 2598 Auxiliary; American Legion Auxiliary Unit 81 President Janet Allen; Kim Koob, president of AmVets Post 13 Ladies Auxiliary; and Laura Boyd, regent of the Ocoee Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
In case of inclement weather, the Veterans Day program will be held at the American Legion Post 81 on James Asbury Drive in Northwest Cleveland, off Paul Huff Parkway.
Stewart urged everyone attending the program at 1st Street Square to bring a lawn chair. Portable restrooms will be available.
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