It was led by former Pastor Patrick Pence (photo, right) a U.S. Navy veteran who rose to the rank of 3rd class petty officer and served “as a radio man on the USS Tennessee, a submarine stationed in Kings Bay, Georgia,” he said.
Once you take the oath to serve in a branch of the United States military, “then, as they say, you’re behind is their’s,” Pence told the gathering. “And whether you join because it runs in your family, or you have a desire to serve, or life circumstances just drives you toward it, or a recruiter may have made you a lot of promises, you have just took an enormous amount of freedom away from yourself to protect the freedom of others. Did you ever really think about that?
“… If you don’t like your job or where you’re at or where you’re stationed, you can’t just say, ‘Well, I want to go somewhere else or I want to do something else,’ It doesn’t work that way,” Pence added. “A lot of times you’ve got to ask to go to the bathroom. You give up a lot of your individual freedom by serving in the military.
“However, it is a sacrifice many have made,” he continued. “ .... Many of our families make the sacrifice, our parents make the sacrifice, our children make the sacrifice. I think that’s what a lot of people don’t understand.
“You miss a lot of birthdays, you miss weddings, you miss funerals. You miss anniversaries. And so the family also serves. I want to make that point clear. Divorce rates are very high in the military, a lot higher than the national average.
“It’s hard to serve and be a dad or a mom,” he continued. “So, I want to also pay tribute not only to our veterans who have served, but the families of veterans, the parents that see their son and daughter and they don’t see them for a while and they don’t know if they’re OK or maybe where exactly they’re at.”
To all families whose loved ones serve, or served, in the military, “I thank you for all you have done,” Pence said.
Attendee Butch Houston of Farragut is a 22-year Navy veteran retiree and 1976 graduate of Farragut High School whose Naval duties included being “a foreman” at a military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“I was glad to come out here and hear what he had to say, and be here at the statue that the school and Town were named after,” Houston said.