Veterans from each branch of service came to the ceremony to honor past and present members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Cumberland University president Paul Stumb was the featured speaker at this year’s ceremony. Stumb served in the Navy and Naval Reserves for more than 25 years as a cryptology officer.
Retired Lt. Col. Jim Henderson served as master of ceremonies. Henderson led attendants in a moment of silence before introducing Bob Haley for the welcome address. Haley is commander of American Legion Post 15.
Haley led the posting of the colors ,as well as the Pledge of Allegiance and posting of service flags. He also introduced McKenzie Williams from Tuckers Crossroads School who sang the national anthem.
Haley then took a member to honor the Gold Star Mothers in attendance. American Gold Star Mothers is an organization of mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the service of the country.
Stumb then took the podium and told a story of former director of the CIA and retired Gen. David Petraeus. Petraeus served more than 37 years in the Army and was part of the Central Intelligence Agency until his retirement in 2012.
Stumb quoted Petraeus in telling a story of the day Petraeus found out that he was accepted to West Point Military Academy.
“[That day], two of my teachers took me aside and essentially told me the following: ‘David you’re a smart guy. You don’t have to join the military; you should go to college instead.’ I could easily write a theme defending West Point and the military as I did that day, explaining that the U.S. Military Academy is an elite institution. That it’s actually statistically much harder to enlist in the military than it is to get into college. That serving the nation is a challenge that all able-bodied men and women should at least consider for a host of reasons. But I won’t. What I will say is that when a 16-year-old kid is told that attending West Point is going to be bad for his future, then there’s a dangerous disconnect in America. Entirely too many Americans have no idea what kind of burdens our military is bearing,” Stumb said of Petraeus.
Stumb went on to address a drop in number of citizens who have served the country since World War II.
“In World War II, 11.2 percent of the nation served for four years,” said Stumb. “During the Vietnam era, 4.3 percent of our nation served in 12 years. Since 2001, the last 16 years, only 0.45 percent, less than one half of 1 percent, of our population has served.”
Stumb concluded his speech with a thank you to those who served in the past, as well as those who are currently serving.
“Thank you to the 11.2 percent, and to the 4.3 percent, and thanks to the 0.45 percent who continue to serve our nation today and who are prepared to join the thousands of others who have given their lives so that we might enjoy the freedoms that we do today,” said Stumb.
After the speech, the ceremony concluded with the laying of wreaths, a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps.”