Members of the Disabled American Veterans Post 102 in Newport celebrated July 4 by unveiling a giant mural emblazoned on the exterior wall of the post.
Rob Watkins, senior vice-commander, told the audience the mural measures 6’8” X 25’4” and was created to honor area veterans.
The DAV and East Tennessee Artscapes received a grant from the Tennessee Arts Council which was used for the supplies needed for the painting. In addition, the grant funding was used for a military artifacts display.
A number of groups were involved in the mural project including East Tennessee ArtScapes, Newport Chamber of Commerce and Cocke County Tourism, Keep Cocke County Beautiful, Cocke County Leadership, Lowe’s, Arby’s and the Cocke County litter crew.
Watkins said he asked for concepts for the mural and was invited to the art classes at Cocke County High School, where he received more than 80 proposals. He said art teacher Myra Amason proposed the eagle on the mural which has a 16-foot wingspan. The project includes lots of symbolism.
The phrase on the mural reads, “We don’t know them all, but we should honor them all.” Watkins pointed out instead of a period, the phrase includes a teardrop which symbolizes the suffering and struggles families and soldiers went through while they were apart.
He also announced that Newport City Council Alderman Steve Smith has agreed to build a handicapped ramp for the post. Alderwoman Louanna Ottinger provided funding for lighting and Waste Industries donated $1,500 for a 35-foot flag pole.
Watkins introduced Terry Harris, who on behalf of First District Congressman Phil Roe, has been tasked with recording the stories of local veterans. The stories will be a part of the national archives.
Harris recognized Charles Lewis Moore, a Vietnam helicopter pilot who was one of the first veterans to participate in the history project.
The Parrottsville Quilts Guild also presented Quilts of Valor to a number of veterans.
Sheilah Strobel reported her group has presented 212 quilts to area veterans.