By Ralphine Major
Usually, they are from other states, other cities, other communities and small towns. This time, the soldier was from here in Corryton, Tennessee. U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss and 12 other brave Americans died on foreign soil. Each of these heroes have been awarded the Purple Heart posthumously. It has been heartening to see the many ways East Tennesseans are remembering these young heroes. From football fields and highways to retail stores and restaurants, scenes of remembrances show compassion and gratitude for their sacrifices.
Knauss was a Gibbs High School graduate. At Harbison’s Crossroads in the heart of Gibbs is a beautiful memorial honoring Ryan and his comrades. Coordinated by Clear Springs Baptist Church, the touching tribute includes a huge picture of Ryan in uniform. Thirteen American flags representing each life lost line the front of the display on the corner in front of Weigel’s where Tazewell Pike intersects Emory Road. One man who came had been Ryan’s Sunday School teacher at Corryton Church when he was five years old.
As I was leaving, I saw a mother and her three young children walking toward the memorial. I wondered how she would explain to them about the tragic deaths of these heroes who were lost way too soon. So many touching memorials, so well deserved. May we never forget these brave Americans who gave their lives for freedom.
Words of Faith: “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 (KJV).