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McKENZIE (May 27) — The City of McKenzie marked Memorial Day Monday with a ceremony at Downtown Veterans Memorial Park.Mayor Jill Holland welcomed all, then Tennessee National Guard 190th …
McKENZIE (May 27) — The City of McKenzie marked Memorial Day Monday with a ceremony at Downtown Veterans Memorial Park.
Mayor Jill Holland welcomed all, then Tennessee National Guard 190th Engineers Specialist Harry Evbuomwan of Huntingdon and Sergeant Jewell Milburn of Camden performed the presentation of colors.
Mayor Holland led the Pledge of Allegiance, then Emma Renfro, the city’s summer intern, sang the National Anthem. Renfro then performed “God Bless the USA.”
Next, Sgt. Major Spiros Roditis, U.S. Army, delivered a prayer, saying in part, “Father, we ask you to bless and strengthen those brave souls who selflessly give of themselves without asking anything in return.”
Mayor Holland spoke again, saying, “Today, we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We pause as a nation to honor and mourn those, who generation after generation, coming from every corner of our great nation, have shed their blood in this country and in foreign lands across the globe so that we may have our liberty still today.”
A medley of the hymns of each military branch was played, and veterans and active members present stood during their respective hymns.
Holland then thanked the participants in the program, Jennifer Waldrup, the Parks and Recreation Department, American Legion Post 37 and the Women’s Auxiliary and Veterans from VFW Post 4939.
She introduced the Memorial Day speaker, Emily Bolin. Bolin is a 2019 MHS honor graduate whose Voice of Democracy essay, “Why My Vote Matters,” won the local, district and state contests. She recently returned from Washington, D.C., where she represented McKenzie and the state of Tennessee in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy Contest. She finished 39th out of 53 contestants.
Bolin then recited her award-winning essay, beginning with a quote from Abraham Lincoln, “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” She lamented that the U.S. is ranked among the worst of all developed nations in voter turnout. “Millions of oppressed people worldwide would give anything for the right we enjoy to go to the polls and vote for or against their leaders. This right, envied by so many, is sometimes taken for granted by those of us who enjoy it.”
Bolin continued, “My vote matters because my country matters. My vote shows the love I have for America and my commitment to do my part to continue to make her strong... By exercising my right to vote, I honor those who paid such a terrible price to give that right to me.”
She concluded, “Many, and most notably President Ronald Reagan, often spoke of America as ‘a shining city on a hill.’ That light must necessarily be fueled by the courage and the willingness to honor this great land we call home. May she forever be our beacon of liberty so that, for generations to come, her people may bask in her beautiful glow. So, yes, indeed my vote matters.”
Mayor Holland presented Bolin with a proclamation from herself and the city council.
Sgt. Major Roditis then recited a Memorial Day poem, “Stand Proud, Stand Tall,” by Ron Tranmer. It begins, “The flag of our nation, a flag under God. To our flag we will always be true. Stand proud, stand tall with hand over heart, as we honor the red, white and blue.” and concludes, “May this land always be strong and free and protected by God from above.”
Next, Tony Lany of VFW Post 4939 and Dana Deem of American Legion Post 37 placed the memorial wreath in front of the Veterans Memorial, and the colors were retired.
Mayor Holland then concluded the ceremony, saying, “Never, never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Never let your children of their children or their children forget. For when we cease to remember, we dishonor all who came before us and we doom all who come after us. America deserves better... May God bless each of you and your families. May God bless all those who have served and are currently serving and may God continue to bless the greatest nation the world has ever known.”
Attendees were invited to remain for refreshments served by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary.