JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — A crowd of around 100 people gathered on Memorial Day to honor the 359 fallen soldiers from Washington County.
“This is not really a celebration, this is more of a remembrance,” Vietnam veteran Moe Baines told News Channel 11. “Because the people that we’re here to speak for today are the people who aren’t here to speak for themselves.”
Among the crowd were gold star families remembering their lost loved ones.
Linda Dellinger says she didn’t know what a gold star mother was until her son Chad Alan Barrett died while on a tour with the Army in Iraq in 2008.
“I didn’t want to know, I guess once I found out,” Dellinger said. “It’s not been easy for anybody.”
Dellinger said participating in memorials every year is one way she honors her son’s memory.
“I just want to honor him by being here to support the other people,” Dellinger said. “I’m not the only one that lost someone. And if I can be of some help to anyone, I would want to do that.”
Veterans in attendance said Memorial Day is not a day to celebrate but to remember.
“I wish people would stay off the lakes and stuff and come to these ceremonies, so they would know,” said Kyle Crise, a Vietnam veteran. “Because it’s not about partying and going to the lake, it’s about remembering.”
Event organizers agree; they’re happy the clouds cleared for the community to join in remembering the fallen.
“We don’t want to forget those loved ones because they did so much for us,” said Johnson City/Washington County Veteran’s Memorial Foundation Chairman Gary McAllister. “We wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them.”