Veterans Day is a time to give thanks and honor America’s soldiers. However, some local Veterans said it hasn’t always been that way, but things are changing for the better.
At 11:11 a.m. the students from Washington Elementary School started singing songs full of American pride, which filled the hearts of Kingsport veterans like Onzi Woods.
The Vietnam Army vet said soldiers weren’t always welcomed back with open arms or seen as heroes when they returned from war. "When we first came home and for the first 30 years, no, we weren’t shown any respect. But now, yes, it’s better," Woods said.
Woods said that for awhile, the 11th hour on the 11th day of November didn’t mean much to him. "It was just another day because nobody really cared," he said.
But he said that has changed. With new generations and new wars, there was a newfound respect for those who put their lives on the line for the country. "September 11th had a little to do with it, but I think the early 1990s is when it actually started being better," he said.
Army Veteran Robert Barnes, who served during the Korean conflict, said that now, more than ever, veterans are recognized. "I think they have more respect for us today. They always had respect but they show it more today. They feel free to go up and thank us for what we did,” Barnes said.
Although no handshake or hug will ever be able to truly thank the brave men and women for their service, they said just knowing their not forgotten means the worlds to them. "It’s great. It's something I'll always remember,” Barnes said. “I’m very proud to be a part of it,” Woods added.
The Kingsport Veterans Day celebration was hosted by the American Legion Post 3 and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 979.