Remembering the past, Honoring the present
Dover, TN – I love small town festivals they have a certain je ne sais quois, a charm, an innocence that you just don’t find in festivals held in larger towns. Don’t get me wrong I love Clarksville’s Rivers and Spires Festival, and adore Riverfest. But Dover’s Eagle Fest was a lot of fun too. The festival is held Memorial Day weekend and the events continued non-stop.
The festival opened with your typical parade. However it wasn’t overrun with rampant commercialism. Another charming aspect was that the children along the route were simply showered with candy; the various Beauty Queens were tossing it out by the handful. The Grand Marshal was a veteran A.J. Dalton.
After the parade was over I made my way back along the storefronts on main street heading towards the fair. I stumbled upon Three senior citizens sitting in rocking chairs placed on the sidewalk by a local business, a great vantage point from which they were able to enjoy the passing parade.
Back at the fair, you could tell the community was having a great time.
Young faces were painted with the name of the local sports team “Rebels.” People were shopping at the various vendor‘s booths, or just stopping by for a conversation with friends. One young man successfully dropped a ping pong ball into a floating glass bowl to win his little brother a fluffy bunny rabbit. Children were laughing as they boarded rides with their friends.
The opening ceremony for Eagle Fest began at 11:00am, and the grand tent was packed with people.
Soldiers from Fort Campbell sat along the floor in front of the stage, part of the B.O.S.S. program these soldiers had developed a relationship with the community during the 2010 flooding and cleanup after various storms.
On stage the senior vets were seated in a place of honor, they were to take part of the opening ceremony.
“Good morning Eagle Fest’ers!” said Rev. Donald Bailey; the Emcee for the day. ”That’s what I like to hear, a lot of joy and energy in the crowd. It’s so good to have everybody here today at Eagle Fest. It’s a wonderful outdoor day in Stewart County Tennessee. The Air Conditioning out here is not working quite as well as we might like, but at least it’s not raining and for that we give thanks!”
Bailey then introduced the dignitaries on stage and off. Stewart County Mayor Rick Joiner, Dover Mayor “The spark plug of Dover” Mrs. Lesa Fitzhugh, Vicki Yates from News Channel 5, the Stewart County High School Band, the B.O.S.S. Soldiers, and most honored the Senior Veterans.
He then called for all of the veterans in the audience to stand.
“We are certainly grateful to be living in Stewart County and to be able to come together for Eagle Fest, and so I think it appropriate that the next item on the agenda today is Rev. Adam James from First Christian Church who will lead the invocation.”
“As someone who never put on this countries uniform, I am humbled to even be invited to share on this stage and to be with you gentlemen!”
James then spoke about the recent storm damage that Stewart County suffered, especially the community of Big Rock. “I’ve lived here in Stewart county for about three years, I’ve watched this community come together, and share together, and I know that we will be there. We are going to pick up the community of Big Rock. We are going to help them rebuild their homes; we are going to help them rebuild their lives. And we are going to survive because we are Stewart county,” he said. He then said the prayer.
Boy Scout Troop 501 posted the colors, and then Bailey led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the national anthem.
Bailey then introduced Brother George Miller
“Lesa asked if I would share some things with you on a very brief note, So I am going to start off by sharing something with you that Ronald Regan said,” Miller said. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same…” He then read from the bible, after which he thanked the veterans for their service to our country.
Bailey then introduced Vicki Yates, “It’s a pleasure to welcome our guest speaker here this morning, But in doing so I guess this preacher is going to have to make a confession,” he said “Vicki, there was one time I watched the news on Channel 4, can you forgive me?” “Okay, if you only watched it once, I forgive you. “she responded.
Vicki told of her memories of the Vietnam War.
She then related another encounter with a service member.
The audience applauded loudly.
Next Bailey introduced Tim Wirgau who told the veterans that this was their day, “We have a rule in our family when it’s Fathers Day, Mothers Day, or your Birthday It’s your special day, you get to do what you want, and everybody else in the family has to pitch in… I stand here today to thank the veterans, those that have gone before us, those that are now currently serving. Guess what! Today your special day is!” he exclaimed. “You know we got to open up saying the pledge, singing the national anthem, and hearing the scripture reading. We get to attend our churches, we get to enjoy our freedoms, we get to serve the god of our choice, And it’s because of these fine men and women that have gone before us and paved that path and are still today serving and fighting for our country. I just want to spend a few moments to say thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for serving, for paving the way so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have…”
Next up the B.O.S.S. soldiers had a presentation for the Senior Veterans. Each of the soldiers stood before the veterans and presented them with a medallion thanking them for their service. Following that, children came up to present the combat soldiers with medallions thanking them for their service as well. Finally the veterans in the audience were asked to stand, and each one also presented with medallions by the combat soldiers.
One of the B.O.S.S. soldiers spoke to the Veterans and the crowd. “I wanted to say Freedom isn’t free, and we come from a long legacy. I just took a history class and I kinda appreciate more what they have done for us. If it’s a battle that the whole world was fighting; fighting in a place where its 20 degrees and all you have is one pair of boots; or fighting in a swamp they were there. For all of the sacrifices they made “Thank You!” I’ll say this you are our elders both in the community and in the military. With that I want to say “We’ve got it from here, you gave us freedom, and you maintained it. You were the support. You were the pillars. You made us number 1, and you kept us number 1, and now we’ve got it. We’ll take over after, and you guys can have your day. We will make sure this country will stay safe. Thank you!”
SPC Edwin Pierce the B.O.S.S. president followed “I don’t think he could have put it any better. Memorial Day is the veterans day. You guys have earned everything that you’ve done. We can not thank you enough for your support. We continue to hope that the bonds between Fort Campbell and the civilians over here in Dover continue to grow as a team, as brothers and sisters, and to continue to support you guys in future endeavors.”
After Bailey returned to the podium he thanked SPC Pierce, “I know that with you men and women in our armed services, the United States has a bright future! Thank you very much!” He then introduced Rev. Paul Edwards from Wyatt’s Chapel Charge of the United Methodist Church.
Edwards spoke about the sacrifice that these soldiers and their families make for us. “…to leave their families for days, weeks, months, or years at a time; so many are willing to do that for us as Stewart Countians, and as citizens of the United States. They don’t really consider it a job; they consider it a sacrifice for us. We have recognized a lot of people today, and it is very fitting that we recognize our veterans. But We also have a group of people that are not with us who certainly deserve recognition; those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us, falling in battle. One thing that still stands in my mind is the words Freedom is not Free and truly it has cost many lives to have the freedom that we can claim today…” He then spoke about how faith can help those dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Stewart County Mayor Rick Joiner took the podium next. We recognized some of the veterans who were unable to attend the ceremony. He then introduced the pageant winners.
Rev. Roland Mudge from Corinth Baptist Church gave the Benediction.
Dover Mayor Lesa Fitzhugh closed out the program. She recognized the sponsors of the event. Then After relating how she got Vicki Yates to agree to attend the ceremony she presented her with a small memento in appreciation of her attending.
After the ceremony I had to return to Clarksville, but events continued throughout the rest of Saturday, and on into Sunday including a Street Dance, Fireworks, A concert by the Civil War Singers, a Candle light vigil, and Luminaries at Fort Donelson.
Bill Larson is the Creator and Publisher of Clarksville Online, and works as a network administrator for Compu-Net Enterprises. He is politically and socially active in the community. Bill serves on the board of the Clarksville Community Concert Association, and is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave.
You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.
Topics101st Airborne Division, A. J. Dalton, Adam James, B.O.S.S., Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, Boy Scout Troop 501, Brother Don Bailey, Dover TN, Eagle Fest, Edwin Pierce, First Christian Church, Fort Campbell, George Miller, Lesa Fitzhugh, Memorial Day, News Channel 5, Paul Edwards, Rick Joiner, Ronald Regan, Stewart County High School, Tim Wirgau, United Methodist Church, Vicki Yates, Wyatt's Chapel Charge
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