MARYVILLE (WATE) – Communities across East Tennessee were honoring our veterans on Friday. Celebrations in Blount County were both somber and moving as they unveiled their new War Dead Memorial. It’s taken years of planning, hard-work, fundraising and more to get to this point.
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There was a crowd of patriots and pride in Maryville on Veterans Day. History echoed during their ceremony and even in the thoughts of those who served overseas.
“Back then we didn’t have the modern day stuff. We had what we called radio shacks. You had to repair them and crank them up to talk. And I was on my way to one, one day, and I got right next to it and they blew it up. That’s how close I ever came in the war to getting killed,” said George Blevins, a Korean War veteran.
Outside the Blount County Historic Courthouse there was a sense of somber commemoration as Psalms were read.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him,” said Vickie Wade, whose son Michael Shane Carpenter was killed while serving in the U.S. Air Force.
A moment of silence was held to remember those who never made it home.
“I saw it on the television. I saw a C-130 plane in a lake and I knew at that moment it was my son. Even though it wasn’t official, a mama’s heart knows,” said Wade.
The War Dead Memorial is now a place for families, just like the Wades, to visit.
“I’m going to be able to sit, and think, and look, and pray, and relive the good times. Because that’s what I want to relive, the good times,” she said.
Etched into each one of the marble stones are names of those who were killed in action from wars dating back to the Civil War all the way up to now.
“He gave his all. He gave his life. He gave his life for our country,” said Wade.
Generous donations, throughout East Tennessee, totaled $240,000 for the War Dead Memorial.
“I just can’t tell you the warmth in my heart. It’s beautiful,” added Wade.
“This country is a great country and we should appreciate it more than what we do,” said Blevins.
Congressman Jimmy Duncan also presented an American flag during the ceremony. The flag flew at the main dome of the Capitol building in Washington D.C. and will now fly outside of the Blount County Historic Courthouse.