As a prelude to the Memorial Day Commemoration at the Chattanooga National Cemetery, the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter # 203 and the Chief John Ross Chapter, NSDAR joined together to remember and recognize the 34 individuals buried at the CNC who died in combat while serving in the Republic of South Vietnam. The commemorative ceremony was attended by family members, the general public and members of both organizations.
Bill Norton, president of the VVA # 203, spoke for the Vietnam veterans present as he recalled their time in-country and the conflict that divided the nation due to the political nature of the war. Norton, U. S. Marine Corps, noted that those who chose to serve did so to protect the rights of all citizens here and abroad, including the rights of those who protested the war in Vietnam. He spoke eloquently about the character traits that distinguish those willing to stand on the line for freedom and justice and their return to civilian life where they continued to serve their communities, often without recognition of their military service.
Chief John Ross Regent Jessica Dumitru then read the names of each of those killed in Vietnam, buried in the Chattanooga National Cemetery, along with birth date, date of death, age at time of death and branch of service. Of the 34 men, the youngest was 18 and the oldest, a career soldier, was 36. A stillness fell over the crowd as the reality of the price of freedom became apparent. She then distributed flags, one for each of the fallen, along with directions to the appropriate gravesite, that included a large tag with photo and personal information for the individual. Family members and friends joined in placing the flags.
Lt. Col. Ray Adkins, U. S. Army, Retired, and Teresa Webb Rimer, immediate past regent, offered the invocation and benedictions. Civilian Medal of Honor Recipient Molly Hudgens of Ashland City, Tn. led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. The VVA # 203 Honor Guard, led by Denny Miller, posted and retrieved the colors and David Cox, U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, ended the service with Taps.