Mark your calendars for these Patriotic events

With just the foundation and the Eagle’s head this 25’ mural will be unveiled on July 4th. Read the story and stay tuned for more about the beautiful patriotic mural project.

This next week Cocke County has two events saluting the Flag that are leading up to the biggest of Newport’s 4th of July’s activities. Many families in the community will be heading to the lakes, parks and family gatherings to celebrate the 4th with fireworks. So, before you take off for that afternoon and evening celebrations you should plan to attend the unveiling of the 25’ long mural that is being painted on the DAV Chapter 102’s Hall. More about that later.

This Friday June 14th is Flag Day, established on this day in 1777 by the Second Continental Congress to commemorate the adoption of the official “flag of the United States. It is also the birthdate celebrated by the U.S. Army. Two local events are planned to bring awareness to the day by hosting events.

WELLINGTON PLACE: As part of the “We Honor Veterans” program, a campaign developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. There will be an event at Wellington Place Assisted Living. Smoky Mountain Hospice, University of Tennessee Hospice, Amedisys Hospice & Avalon Hospice are partnering to honor the Flag and Veterans.

Debbie D. Williams LMSW, with Smoky Mountain Home Health & Hospice sent me an invitation to attend their Flag Day commutation at Wellington in Newport. There are currently seven Veterans living at Wellington Place and they will be honored as well. Debbie wrote, “Our program will be short, with a ceremonial flag raising, recite Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem.” She has also contacted the Cocke County High School JROTC and hope they will attend.

The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at Wellington Palace, Place 375 Hedrick Drive. The public is encouraged to attend and help salute the American Flag and the Veterans who served to defend her. For more information you can contact Debbie at 423-623-0233.

COSBY CAMPGROUND: Later this June 14th day will be another event in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP) at the Cosby Campground presented by a group of Cocke County Veterans organizations. The event spearheaded by Sheila Evans of the William Cocke, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, (NSDAR). I met Sheila about a year ago and I find she is like the energizer bunny when it comes to doing things to remember and salute the Veterans of Cocke County. Last year she put together a project that honored many of the World War I men whose names were discovered on a list found in the Cocke County American Legion’s archives. She worked with our Military Art and Artifacts exhibit and has been helping with many other ongoing projects using her contacts and wealth of information.

Sheila began the New Horizon project (a course to inspire and instill confidence in Daughters to take that next step into leadership) two years ago. This has led her to design this upcoming event. I talked with Sheila about the Flag Day project and how it came about. She said, “I got the Flag Day idea from blending William Cocke, NSDAR and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). Utilizing common goals of Patriotism, Preservation, and Education with NSDAR and National Park Service (NPS). The project goals were to establish a systemic action plan for cemeteries within the Cosby/Big Creek areas of the GSMNP. The Patriotism section highlighted a composite list of WWI Veterans buried within the Park. Flag Day evolved from this section of the project.”

Sheila’s research led her to find grave sites and Veterans military information in an awesome cemetery reference for Cocke County; Sacred to the Memory, Part II, Cocke County, Tennessee Cemeteries, 2009, she found at the Library Friends, Newport, Tennessee. She suggested, “Anyone interested in Cocke County history should go by their local library and buy a copy of these books.”

Armed with the library information she learned the GSMNP has an established plan on the policies and procedure of our cemeteries. She submitted a formal request for Flag Day program that was approved in February 2019. Sheila said, “The timing of our Flag Day Veterans Salute blended with upcoming Friday night GSMNP Cosby summer programs. GSMNP was quick to support our “Focus on Veterans” while emphasizing cultural history. GSMNP Ranger, Katie Corrigan is our lead contact for this program.”

The Flag Day Salute to Veterans is open to all. Many of the families with relatives buried in these cemeteries will be on hand to share their memories and histories. We especially invite those with family/friends buried within the Park boundary.

The program will be held at the Pavilion at the GSMNP Cosby Campground, 127 Cosby Entrance Rd, Cosby, TN (Off Highway 32). The program begins at 4 pm with a short welcome, prayer and pledge. After recognition of the attending families and organizations the group will go to the Tritt Family Cemetery to place flags on the Veterans graves.

Shelia told me the important part of this whole endeavor is, “That the outcome will be a “Focus on our Veterans” with the joint blending of Cocke County’s Patriotic groups working together to Salute our Veterans and appreciation for the Flag of the United States of America!” She continues, “There is a long list of those to thank for this endeavor. Let’s begin with the following: William Cocke, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 102, American Veterans Post 75, American Legion Post 41, Dandridge Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3380, Parrottsville Quilt Guild-Quilts of Valor Foundation, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and View from the Bunker.” If you need more information or directions, you can contact Shelia at 865-475-3463 or 865-654-8473.

Because of her tireless efforts, I would like to Thank Sheila for all she does behind the scenes in the community to help bring attention to the Veterans of Cocke County and their ancestors. She is a tremendous resource and has become a dear friend.

Side Note: Following the Flag Day event stay around for some good music. The Cocke County Partnership Department of Tourist Development Director Linda Lewinski is pleased to announce the popular “Celebrating Cosby” is being presented again this year. The series is held in the GSMNP’s Cosby Campground each Friday evening. Beginning June 14 through August 2 at 7 p.m.

Linda said, “The June 14th program will showcase the Bluegrass musical talents of the Mountain Edge Band. The band led by Judge Carter Moore also includes Andy Williams, Jamie Clark, Limmie Workman. The music starts at 7 at the amphitheater and will be a lot of fun.”

YA’LL COME: I have been writing about this Mural Project for several months. This is the first major announcement and invitation to the biggest event of the area that will be held on July 4th. That is when the 6’8” tall by 25’ long patriotic mural on the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 102’s outside wall. The program will begin at 10 am and will be filled with recognizing the importance of the sacrifices of Cocke County Veterans. The mural will be in honor of these women and men who served to protect our freedoms.

Preparation and painting started this last week. Mrs. Amason, Cocke County High School art teacher, two of her students, my son Mac and I worked 10 hours putting on the foundation for this mural. It will feature large American and POW-MIA flags while recognizing our military’s involvement in wars, dating back to World War I and honoring Cocke County’s Veterans. Our work will continue to complete it in time for the July 4th program.

While plans for the event are ongoing there will be music, food and fun afterwards. In the next couple of weeks, I will make sure you know all the details. Put this on your agenda before heading out to the other celebrations that will take place later that day.


Blue Water Navy Act HR 299 Congressional Release: “This week the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Cali.) and Ranking Member Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) issued the following statement after news that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will not appeal the Procopio decision:“We are encouraged by DOJ’s decision not to appeal Procopio and further delay benefits to our Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans. It’s now up to the Senate to finally right this wrong and pass H.R. 299.”

I find it interesting that the bill has 37 sponsors in the Senate out of the 100 members and that neither of Tennessee’s Senators are not. Why not? Call their offices and speak with someone. I got a nice “canned” response letter from Senator Blackburn that was almost word for word as another Veteran received from Senator Alexander. That is not why we voted them into office.

D Day: This past week June 6th was the 75th Anniversary of D Day. I have observed and been part of several commemorations and observances to salute the thousands of American soldiers who lost their lives. I hope you took time to remember them all.

Rob Watkins is a totally disabled, Air Force, Vietnam combat veteran. He has worked with Veterans for over 40 years. As a member of local organizations, he continues his path to help others. Please send information, dates for events, two weeks in advance, questions or suggestion; by mail to PO Box 224 Cosby, TN 37722 or c/o Newport Plain Talk, email;, Facebook/View from the Bunker, or call 423-721-8918.

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