The Skyhawk Veteran’s Association hosted its annual Veteran’s Day program Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 3 p.m. in Watkins Auditorium.
Despite the less-than-ideal weather, many members of the Martin community attended the event. Members of Rolling Thunder Tennessee Chapter 6 were in attendance, in addition to UTM ROTC members as well as many students and local citizens. The program honored members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard, along with several civilians.
The program began with a video presentation including video clips of battered soldiers and fighting from World War II and the Vietnam War. The UTM branch of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps then posted the colors, officially commencing the event.
The program’s keynote speaker was Ron Cheatham, a retired United States Navy veteran who served in one deployment in the South China Sea aboard the USS Anchorage during the Vietnam War, as well as two stateside stations.
Cheatham discussed the status of Veteran’s Day as a national holiday, as well as encouraging veterans to take pride in their time in the service. He also discussed returning veterans’ need for assistance in readjusting to civilian life after deployment, drawing attention to the intended purpose of the holiday: recognition of those who died or were wounded while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
“A veteran is someone who has written a blank check to the United States of America for the value up to his or her own life,” said Cheatham.
Cheatham’s speech was followed by the Rolling Thunder’s Missing Man Ceremony, dedicated to those soldiers taken as war prisoners or declared missing in action. Nearly 83,000 members of the U.S. military have been declared POW-MIA since World War I.
The ceremony was conducted in complete silence, with the exception of music and a short verbal description of the significance of each item used.
Refreshments were offered following the program.