Holidays honoring veterans is a big deal here in the heart of Appalachia. Soldiers from Appalachia have always seemed to have the skills needed to adapt to the rigors of military service. These “backwoodsmen” and mountain men were already comfortable with firearms and were good shots too, their very lives depended on it. They were used to being outdoors, hiking long distances, and adjusted to the basic hardships of life in the military.
After all, Tennessee is called the Volunteer State, and has always seen high numbers of men and women who have volunteered over the years to defend our country and freedoms. Andrew Jackson, Jim Bowie, Davy Crocket and Alvin York are but a few of these proud soldiers from the past that we celebrate during Veterans Day in Gatlinburg.
Each year for the last 20 years or so, Gatlinburg has held a Veterans Day Celebration honoring U.S. military veterans and active-duty service members. In fact, Gatlinburg is just one of 57 cities in the entire country designated as an official Regional Site for Veterans Day observances. In recent years, the celebration has moved to the Rocky Top Sports World, where Mt. LeConte serves as a majestic backdrop to the celebrations. The official hour long celebration begins at 11am, and is open to the public. Ceremonies usually include military flyovers, live patriotic music, the POW-MIA Invocation and more.
There’s usually a parade in downtown Gatlinburg too, full of marching bands, active-duty service members and groups of veterans. Dress up in your best red, white and blue and let these soldiers know how much we appreciate them. And if the parade is canceled for some reason, or you just can’t make it, don’t worry. Settle back in the comfy living area in your luxury Gatlinburg vacation rental and livestream the National Veterans Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. It begins at 11am when a wreath is placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and ceremonies continue on from there. You can watch various past parades on YouTube too.
Visit a Local Cemetery
Visit a local area cemetery to honor the veterans buried there. While it doesn’t distinguish its veterans’ graves, White Oak Flats Cemetery is worth a visit. Established in 1830, White Oak Flats Cemetery is just a short walk from the Village, and is home to early Gatlinburg settlers and Wiley Oakley, a famous guide, storyteller and the original “Roamin’ Man of the Mountains.” Fun fact: White Oak Flats was the original name for Gatlinburg.
While you’re hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visit one or all four of the cemeteries within the park. Hike to Little Greenbrier Cemetery, Plemmons Cemetery, Ownby Cemetery (burial site of Civil War veteran and prisoner of war, David Profitt), and Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery and you’ll find the names of local families who first settled the area. Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery is the resting spot for first settlers John Oliver and his wife, and of Russell Gregory. Gregory was “murdered by North Carolina rebels” as a result of his conducting an ambush of confederate soldiers during the War Between the States.
Honor a Veteran
If you know any veterans, be sure to give them a call or send them a card to let them know you appreciate all their sacrifices. If you don’t personally know a veteran, head over to one of Gatlinburg’s Veterans’ Organizations and adopt one (or more) for the day. Take them out to lunch, or better yet, arrange for lunch to be delivered for all the vets. Give one of the Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge American Legion Posts or VFW Posts a call to organize things. Drop off a few handmade thank you cards along with some delicious BBQ from Bennett’s Pit BBQ, Delauder’s BBQ, or Corky’s Ribs & BBQ. Be sure to order extra for your own crew and enjoy BBQ out on the deck of your Gatlinburg rental with the Smokies on the horizon.
Veterans Day in Gatlinburg
No matter where you are or what you’re doing, whether you’re out hiking or dirt biking through the Smokies or lazily enjoying a sip or two of our local shine, don’t forget the Veterans Day Moment of Silence. The nation officially observes two minutes of silence at 2:11 EST on Veterans Day in Gatlinburg.
If you need more ideas on celebrating Veterans Day, give us a call! We’ll help you find the perfect Gatlinburg luxury rental for your stay, and help you make this Veterans Day really count.