Dear Editor,

Historian David McCullough in his book The American Spirit – Who We Are and What We Stand For poses the question, “How can we profess to love our country and take no interest in its history?”

It is possibly more important today than ever before to understand the history and origins of our country and specifically the region we call home. The roots of the families that have built our communities over the past two centuries, their triumphs and struggles, are what make us who we are, our beliefs, what we value, and our traditions.

Many families that trace their roots to the earliest East Tennessee settlers are blessed to have a family historian, the go-to person that is the depository and curator of the family genealogy.

We have been extremely blessed to have a multitude of folks, past and present, in our county with a dedication to save, preserve, and pass history to the next generation, but there is one extremely unique in his knowledge and passion.

An end of an era has come with the retirement of the Newport Plain Talk’s Assistant Editor, Journalist, and Historical Columnist. He is our county’s Go-To Person, a most influential historian and genealogist that has dedicated a good portion of his life to researching and recording the stories of the people of our county.

His “As It Was Give to Me” column that hundreds of readers eagerly await each week will be sorely missed. The citizens of Cocke County and the generations that will follow owe an unpayable debt of gratitude to Duay O’Neil.

Daniel Webster defines a hero as a person admired for achievements and noble qualities. What endeavor could be nobler than teaching us who we are and preserving those stories for the generations yet to come?

Thank you Duay!

Chris Edmonds

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