KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – As the Liberty Celebration group sang patriotic songs, the Memorial Day event kicked off at the Kingsport Veterans Memorial.

The lyrics to “God Bless America” rang out across the park as veterans, active service members, local dignitaries and families of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice breathed in the deeper meaning of the song’s verses. The May heat shone a brilliant light on the American flag at half staff, raised to full mast at exactly noon, honoring fallen soldiers from across the nation.

Veterans saluted the flag as Kingsport’s Angie Marshal belted out the words to the national anthem. Heads bowed in solemn respect as Brother Steve Lyons of Bible Way Baptist Church gave the event’s invocation.

Local veterans organizations were introduced and honored, including the America Legion Post 3, AMVETS Post 37, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 38, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 979, Veterans of foreign wars Post 4933, Tri-Cities Military Affairs Council and four living Korean War veterans.

An act of true courage was experienced unbeknownst to many in attendance as Sam Vanzant and Sam Jones of VVA Chapter 979 presented the Missing Man Table, honoring prisoners of war and those reported missing in action while defending their country oversees.

Vanzant lost his wife just before Memorial Day but honored his lost brothers and sisters in uniform at the event anyway.

“Given the freedoms we enjoy today in America, it is easy to forget the men and women whose sacrifice have made this possible. From our perspective, a grateful nation has forgotten them. Our pledge to you is that the Vietnam Veterans American chapter 979 has not and will not ever forget them,” Vanzant said at the event.

Dobyns-Bennett High School AFJROTC Instructor and retired Air Force Colonel Eric Vogt was the guest speaker at the event.

As a teacher, Vogt said he aimed to teach those in attendance about the names on the memorial surrounding the event. He highlighted the names and life stories of fallen soldiers from World War I all the way to the war in Afghanistan.

Brian Trent unveiled the new Rotary Memorial Kiosk at the Kingsport Veterans Memorial, which helps visitors navigate the park dedicated to honoring local fallen heroes.

Liberty Celebration 2022 Let Freedom Ring will host “A Patriotic Musical Extravaganza” on June 24 at 7 p.m. and June 25 at 2:30 and 7 Higher Ground Baptist Church in Kingsport. Tickets are available at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Eastman Employee Center, Higher Ground Baptist Church, and the Kingsport community Center of for $5 at the door of the event.

Children 12-years and under may attend for free.