The following is a column written from the office of Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts:
From growing up in the beautiful City of Clarksville, Tennessee, I know that it has always been understood, and reinforced to generations young and old in my hometown, that Veterans Day is on the calendar for a very significant reason.
Now, as I proudly serve as your Clarksville Mayor, it blesses me to reaffirm that Veterans Day remains at the forefront, and not in the shadows of all other matters that occupy our minds and lives as we round out the year.
Through a child’s eyes, the federal holiday, Veterans Day, is sandwiched between the autumn and Halloween season, and the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and therefore comes at a time of year when there is a lot of excitement for the young.
I’ve certainly never found Veterans Day to be an afterthought in Clarksville, and that, in itself is a compliment, and a reflection of who we are, and what we value and hold dear as a community of people.
In fact, it could easily be said that for Clarksville and Montgomery County, Veterans Day is really, every day. We merely take one day out of the year to add patriotic exclamation to this.
Veterans Day, observed on November 11, is historically rooted in Armistice Day for World War I, which was November 11, 1918.
Over time, the date evolved into a celebration honoring all of America’s military veterans, from all branches of the armed services, for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Fast forward to the 1940s, and Camp Campbell, later to be called Fort Campbell, was established, eventually supporting one of the largest military populations in the U.S. Army.
Fort Campbell, and Clarksville and Montgomery County would quickly become synonymous, on many different tangible, and intangible levels.
Since World War II the legendary Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), 5th Special Forces Group, and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment have all called this military installation home.
When duty calls, these troops have historically been among the first to be called, time and time again, because of their unique training and skill sets that make them invaluable for the defense of our country.
But that’s only a superficial, surface-level way of defining this installation’s local presence.
These heroes, both men and women, who represent many different cultures and ethnicities, are deeply woven into the fabric of Clarksville and Montgomery County. When we speak today of “native” Clarksvillians, the military segment of the population is part of that, not excluded from it.
We all go to school and church together; work, play and live together; and in doing so, have made this one of the most richly-diverse, and warmly-inviting communities in America.
My memories from childhood are of a Clarksville that has celebrated Veterans Day with a fanfare unrivaled anywhere.
We still have our Veterans Day Parade, one of the biggest of its kind, anywhere. Come out on Saturday, November 11, and help us celebrate with pre-parade ceremonies starting at 9 a.m. on the south front of the Montgomery County Courthouse along Third Street, in beautiful downtown Clarksville.
At 10 a.m., the parade begins at the corner of North Eighth and College streets next to the Sundquist Science Building on the Austin Peay State University campus. The parade will proceed from College, left onto University Avenue, right onto Main Street, left onto Third Street, then left onto Commerce Street, left again back at University Avenue, and finally left onto Eighth Street and back to the APSU parking area.
Come, if you are able, and be a part of this celebration that is uniquely, and appropriately, Clarksville.
But wherever you are at this weekend, please say to a veteran, as I know we will all say, “Thank You.”
I personally wish to say, "Thank You to our military heroes in Clarksville, whom we can proudly say, are also our Clarksville family."