Service above self. The very phrase exemplifies what being a soldier is all about. It’s coming together with other likeminded individuals to achieve a common goal. It’s being willing to give up your desires, interests, and maybe even your future hopes and dreams in order that someone else might achieve theirs. Kingsport area Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JrROTC) programs, thankfully, provide every indication and evidence that there are still young people who have that same willingness and mindset.
Nearing the completion of Phase II, it was noted that although the 392 new pavers that would very soon be installed as part of this most recent effort would be easy to read, the text on the 1,728 original pavers was not quite as vibrant and readable. With the dedication ceremony for Phase II rapidly approaching, a solution was desired by those leading the Phase II effort to ensure all pavers looked their best.
Problem, meet solution. Members of the JrROTC programs from Dobyns-Bennett High School, Sullivan North High School and Sullivan South High School stepped forward and volunteered to help darken the text on all 1,728 of the original granite pavers from Phase I.
With almost a month before the Phase II dedication ceremony, scheduled to be held on Veterans Day on November 11, around 30 total members of JrROTC programs from the aforementioned Kingsport area high schools presented themselves for duty. They went to work under the direction and instruction of Majestic Granite Company’s (Elberton, GA) Richard Griggs who taught them how to perform the highly detailed work of darkening the letters without leaving traces of the darkening agent on the granite outside the text.
Griggs, it should be noted, was a part of the Phase I project team as president and owner of Lexington Blue Granite Company, the company chosen to provide and install the granite for the original project. Upon being approached about Phase II by the project team Griggs, serving as consultant for Majestic Granite Company, came out of retirement to assist with all aspects of the granite acquisition and installation in that phase.
With a goal of having the text on the pavers darkened and completed by June 1, the JrROTC members went to work performing the tedious work. Typical of fall days in Northeast Tennessee, performing such work meant doing so in conditions that would often be unseasonably warm leading to the granite being worked on becoming very hot to the touch. This only made what was already an uncomfortable job more difficult, but despite the discomfort of contorting their bodies to hover over the hot granite the Jr ROTC completed their work on time. The result was outstanding and certainly improved the readability of the original pavers, matching the newness and ease of reading those freshly installed as part of Phase II.
The JrROTC programs involved in this special effort were: Dobyns-Bennett High School Air Force JrROTC, Sullivan North Navy JrROTC, and Sullivan South Air Force JrROTC. They were also assisted by Patsy Sexton, Savannah Bowery, Faith Duncan, Amanda Fletcher, and Holly Morton.
Although Sullivan North and Sullivan South High Schools have since closed and consolidated, forming the new West Ridge High School, the JrROTC program continues on and the contributions of those members who answered the call of duty at the Kingsport Veterans Memorial will never be forgotten.
When duty calls, Kingsport’s best will always rise to the occasion.