Special thanks to one of our committee members, Steve Singleton for sharing his Welcome Home Story.
My name is Steve Singleton and I am a retired Navy Commander, having served for 23 years. My wife and I moved to Clarksville to be closer to family and because of the support the military and veterans receive in the community. Since arriving here five years ago, we have thrown ourselves into a number of community activities, including veteran, Masonic and civic organizations. The is no greater satisfaction than giving back to those who are serving or have served.
I became involved with the Welcome Home Veterans event three years ago. When it was first created, it was done with the idea of honoring Vietnam veterans who were so unjustly mistreated on their return home. This soon expanded to veterans of every era to ensure they were all recognized for their sacrifices. There have been representatives from World War II up to our current active duty serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each year brings more events and presentations that appeal to veterans and families of every generation.
There are a few specific events which stand out to me as I have attended the previous Welcome Home Veteran activities.
The week starts with the opening ceremony at Beachaven Winery and is timed for POW-MIA recognition day. A parachute team carrying the national flag and POW-MIA flag kick off the opening, followed by a massing of the colors; color guards from Ft. Campbell, Austin Peay, local JROTC units and a number of civic and local government bodies. It is impressive to see each unit standing with our nation’s colors in front of the Vietnam Wall, representing so many generations.
Visitors to Beachaven are moved by the various displays; honoring all who have served and those who have given their lives for their country. Emotional support is provided by several veteran groups who understand how moving some of these memorials can be. It is also an opportunity to celebrate, either through military unit reunions taking place at the same time or individuals coming to town for the event. The closest thing I can relate it to would be a family reunion.
Events are not limited to Beachaven. There are activities around town, often at the waterfront or commons area, where static displays, concerts, or dinners are given.
Saturday morning brings the parade. Besides the opportunity to march (or ride) in the parade, the veterans enjoy this chance to talk to other groups and the young JROTC cadets who are preparing themselves to serve their country, either through the military service or other ways.
Last year was the first for a breakfast for JROTC cadets, active duty from Ft Campbell and area veterans.
Each table had a mixture of both groups and after the meal, they were asked questions related to service to country and how each could be involved in the future of our nation. It was an outstanding way to hear from all three groups and will hopefully become a standard fixture of the Welcome Home week.
Every year, you will meet someone with a story that will make you proud to live in our country. It is an honor to work to make this event a success and bring focus to our American Heroes- our U.S. veterans.
Thanks, Steve! We appreciate your hard work and dedication!