‘Past in Review’ Memorial Day Ceremony

CHATTANOOGA,Tenn. (WDEF)- 16 years strong, the Southeast Veterans Museum held it’s “Past in Review” ceremony before Memorial Day.

Teaching people about the history of the military and the meaning behind the national holiday.

“In 1866, an official commemoration of the Civil War dead was done by several cities in the spring time where they would go out and decorate the graves of their fallen” said Major Joseph Mason.

“There’s a lot of confusion, with people where they think they should thank people for their service on Memorial Day” said Lewis Varnell, Director of the South East Veterans Museum. “In reality that’s more Veterans Day but Memorial Day is reserved for those people who have given the ultimate sacrifice and have served our nation.”

Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia has it’s own personal relationship with the legacies left behind by military heroes.

Chattanooga native Charles Coolidge was the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the Tennessee Valley before he was laid to rest in April.

“I was fortunate enough to meet him years ago” said Varnell. “Like so many of the Medal of Honor recipients that I’ve met -very humble. Basically he said it was the men with him that earned the medal and he was the one wearing it.”

In Ringgold, Georgia— Korean War Veteran Corporal Henry Helms’ remains were discovered and returned to the U.S.

Helms was officially laid to rest after his family waited decades for his status to transition from M.I.A. to K.I.A.

“You need to have closure” said Major Mason. “You lose a loved one in battle, who is missing in action -presumed killed- the opportunity to have his remains repatriated back to the United States in an honorable way is very important for the family and the community.”

There are countless stories about the men and women who serve our country.

The Southeast Veterans Museum feels that it’s their responsibility to pass those stories down to the next generation.

“It’s really an important day for people to take a moment and remember why we live in a free country” said Varnell.

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