‘I’ve lost so many close friends in combat’: Johnson City remembers those who made the ultimate sacrifice

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Memorial Day celebrations and ceremonies of remembrance took place all across the Tri-Cities on Monday.

One of the first ceremonies of the day was held at 10 a.m. just below the ‘Spirit of the American Doughboy’ monument at Cardinal Park in the heart of Johnson City.

The event was hosted by King’s Mountain Post 24 of the American Legion. Post Commander Bryan Lauzon said last year they were forced to scale down their event due to COVID and had a mask requirement and an invitation-only event, allowing only 25 people to attend. This year, following the rollout of vaccines, the event was far different and featured a little over 200 people in attendance, a majority of which were veterans.

“I think people are just ready to get out and look for opportunities to come together and what could be a more fitting place to come together than to celebrate what has made our society a free society. It’s amazing,” said Washington County Tennessee Mayor Joe Grandy.

Also in attendance were local political leaders such as Senator Rusty Crowe, Representative Rebecca Alexander, Washington County Tennessee Mayor Joe Grandy, and Former U.S. Congressman Phil Roe.

Senator Crowe said this was the perfect venue for an event like this and does not want the day’s true meaning to be lost on the public.

“It’s so important to remember that those who gave the ultimate sacrifice cared more about our liberties and freedom than they did even their own lives. These gals and guys gave their lives for us so we could go to the beach and we could do the things we do in our lives here at home and we just don’t think about that enough throughout the year,” said Crowe.

Commander Lauzon also stressed the importance of Memorial Day. “Celebrating those who gave their lives in service to our country so that we can live as free as we are. Now we may complain, we may gripe about the way things are, but at least we have the freedom to do so,” he said.

Former Congressman Phil Roe was also in attendance and applauded for his service overseas as well as his work in Washington over the years all aimed at helping veterans.

“I’ve lost many close friends in combat and I thought number one, I would never forget them, and number two, if I was ever in the position to do anything to help these veterans who’ve done so much for us, I would,” said Roe.

Roe shared a heartfelt message during the ceremony, remembering his friends who were lost while fighting for this country.

“We as a nation need to be sure that we don’t forget the families and not only my friends that I mentioned that didn’t get to come home and have a family and go to ball games and all that but what I do is if I go to a ball game or I go to church like I did yesterday, I take them with me. I take them with me in my heart,” Roe said.

Roe was also given the honor of laying a wreath at the foot of the ‘Spirit of the American Doughboy’ monument.

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