By LINDSEY KING
Special to the H&T
The Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center was filled with music and remembrance for the Veterans Day Ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 5, an event organized by the Jonesborough Veterans Affairs Committee.
“Despite our differences, we’re all still Americans,” Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe told the crowd who had gathered to honor veterans at the annual event held at the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center. “And we’re able to still be Americans thanks to our veterans.”
At this year’s event, one veteran’s story held particular poignance, thanks to a letter supplied by Marion Light, an organizer of the event for the past 18 years.
“He was family,” Light said, describing Troy Moody, a former prisoner of war and Jonesborough resident. “He was captured in Korea. He arrived in the country in April 1951. He was captured in May 1951, and he was taken to a Chinese POW camp in North Korea. His family did not know he was alive until they released him in ’53. He was there 27 months, and nobody knew he was alive.”
Moody wrote the letter to Light nearly two decades ago at the time of Jonesborough’s first Memorial Day Ceremony, and its contents were unexpected.
“(Moody’s) son didn’t know that his daddy was a POW,” said Light. “He never talked about it much, and I was actually surprised he gave me this.”
The letter itself is direct and only lists dates significant to Moody’s service and imprisonment. It includes no details about his experience during that time.
“He evidently had been tortured somewhat by the Chinese, and it brought back some rough memories, so he just didn’t bring the memories to thought,” Light said.
As in past years’ Veterans Day ceremonies, the town chose to honor veterans like Moody with speakers and music, though Light said the music has always been a favorite.
This year’s event featured performances from the Appalachian Express Chorus and Don Squibb.
The chorus sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “What a Wonderful World” and “America the Beautiful” in the classic barbershop style.
During their performance, chorus members asked the veterans in the audience to stand according to their branch and be recognized for their service. Every branch of the military was represented.
Squibb, accompanied by the piano, sang “The White Cliffs of Dover” in his clear and powerful voice. The song was originally recorded in 1942 and was one of the most popular World War II songs.
The ceremony concluded with the Tennessee Highway Patrol Honor Guard and the Daniel Boone High School Marine Junior ROTC Honor Guard retiring the colors and Jim Culp playing “Taps.”
When asked what keeps him motivated to organize the ceremony every year, Light remembers his relatives and friends who were veterans and what their service means to our society.
“This thing didn’t come free,” Light said. “We’ve done a great job to keep this experiment we call democracy in check and still going. Our service people make sure it works, that we at least have the opportunity to make it work, and that’s why we want to do things with the veterans. We want people to understand what these guys paid, what it cost them so it wouldn’t cost us.”