MARYVILLE (WATE) – Three flags are flying this weekend at the Blount County Courthouse: the American flag, Tennessee State Flag, and the POW/Missing In Action flag all to get ready for Memorial Day celebrations.
Blount County’s War Dead Memorial is near those flags, but have you ever stopped to read the names? That memorial is important, especially this weekend.
It was built and dedicated in 1965. This coming weekend, it’s turning 50 years old. It’s a bittersweet memorial for many families, but it’s starting to crack and crumble.
Tattered and timeworn, veteran Terry Huffstetler carries a picture close to his heart which was found while remodeling his grandfather’s home.
“Under a piece of linoleum, nearly 60 years, he said ‘You know who this is?’ I said ‘Yes. That’s James Giffin my second cousin.'”
Giffin was cousin of his who died while serving in World War II.
“His plane was making a mission the next day. He volunteered to go and his plane was shot down,” said Huffstetler.
Huffstetler visited three of his cousins Friday. All of their names are on the War Dead Memorial. Blount County Veterans Affairs is starting to raise enough money to make permanent repairs.
“Anything we can do to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us, I want to be a part of and I’ll do everything that I can to help,” said Desert Storm veteran Marion Westerling.
Close to 400 names are on the memorial, each with a family who loved them.
“They deserve the best memorial we can give them,” said Veterans Affairs Director Nathan Weinbaum.
Huffstetler was remembering his three cousins Friday morning, “Some gave their all.”
Blount County Veterans Affairs is hoping to break ground on the new memorial by this Veteran’s Day. If you would like to donate or learn more about the work, you can visit their website here: http://www.blounttn.org/veterans/
Blount County Veterans Affairs is holding their 51st annual Memorial Day celebration Saturday at 11 a.m. in front of the courthouse, 305 Court Street in Maryville.