Patriot Day Service to honor Unicoi County first responders

Sue Guinn Legg • Sep 8, 2017 at 11:38 PM

Unicoi County churches are inviting the community to honor the county’s more than 200 police, fire and emergency medical service first responders at a special Patriot Day Service on Monday night at Unicoi County High School.

Held in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, the service will feature a keynote address by Randy Kington of Morristown, a former Marine who was paralyzed during his service in Vietnam.

Music will be provided by Larry Pate, Alan Foster, the Community Choir and soloist Jonathan Huff. Proclamations honoring the first responders will be presented by state Sen. Rusty Crowe and County Mayor Greg Lynch.

Organizer Steve Rice, pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Unicoi, said, “The greatest thing community can do is to show up so these first responders see that ‘Wow, the community really does support us.’

“With the tragedy in Houston and Florida in danger, we have a reminder of how important these first responders are. With Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida, we see these first responders truly risking their lives.”

The evening will also include the presentation of a canvas shield specially designed to honor the service of the Erwin Nine, a group of nine Army Air Corpsmen from Erwin who survived having their planes shot down and being held captive in German prisoner of war camps during World War II. Designed by John Watson, the shield will be presented to the last surviving members of the Nine, George Hatcher and Dick Franklin, who will be represented by his family members at the Patriot Day Service.

The service will begin at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Overflow parking and shuttle service will be available at the neighboring Love Chapel Elementary and Unicoi Middle schools.

The service will be preceded by a private reception and meal for the county’s 213 responders and the families, including officers of the Erwin Police Department, Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department and Tennessee Highway Patrol, Erwin firefighters, members of the county volunteer fire departments, Unicoi County Emergency Management Agency Director Ed Herndon and paramedics and emergency medical technicians with MedicOne ambulance service.

The service will conclude with a door prize drawing for the first responders, featuring two 55-inch flat-screen TVs and a long list of other prizes donated by area businesses, churches and individuals.

Fore more information about the event or to volunteer, call 423-330-9394.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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