The motorcycle organization Carry the Flame held a moving ceremony at the Harley-Davidson on Lovell Road in West Knoxville in honor of our nation's Fallen Heroes on Tuesday evening in preparation for Memorial Day. The ceremony was lead by members of Rolling Thunder®, Inc. TN, Chapter 3. Approximately 400 people attended the ceremony, including Gold Star Mothers and families, Blue Star Mothers and many veterans and their families. Members of many different motorcycle groups were represented.
The evening began with an opening prayer by a member of Rolling Thunder®, Inc., followed by the singing of the"Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" as the colors were presented. The gathered crowd then recited the "Pledge of Allegiance". The Volunteer State Honor Guard presented the Flag Folding Ceremony as read by Ann Wolf. Once the flag was folded, it was presented by the Volunteer State Honor Guard to the Gold Star Mothers in attendance.
The beautiful Missing Man Table Ceremony was, again, read by Ann Wolf. Sue Dauber and Vietnam veteran John Smith presented the elements of the table. At the foot of the table was a picture of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Haqqani network in Afghanistan and has been missing since June, 2009.
The keynote address was given by Steve Britton of Carry the Flame. He briefly outlined the goals of the Carry the Flame organization. The goals are to support veterans and their families, raise awareness for veterans' issues, and help veterans deal with the Department of Veterans Affairs. As they travel across the country with the flame, they stop in cities and take part in these ceremonies. Any money raised in a city, stays in the city.
The gathered crowd then formed a very large circle and members of Carry the Flame escorted the torch around the circle. Each person in attendance was given the opportunity to hold the flame and to say a prayer or have a moment of silence. The crowd showed due reverence as the torch was passed from person to person.