Visit Clarksville and Oak Grove Tourism Commission partnered to play host to the sixth Welcome Home Celebration on Sept. 15-19.
The five-day event will include a variety of free exhibits and activities, along with ticketed events like meals and concerts, all designed to show appreciation for the service and valor of America’s veterans.
“We’re very excited about the partnership with Oak Grove Tourism. It’s a big step toward an event that’s more accessible to more people,” said Visit Clarksville chairman Matt Cunningham. “We’re also pleased to have Oak Grove Gaming as a major sponsor and offer their property as headquarters for all of the fantastic exhibits that are part of the event this year.”
Traci Cunningham, executive director of Oak Grove Tourism and Convention Commission, is also happy about the partnership.
“We are beyond thrilled to be partnering with Visit Clarksville to celebrate and welcome home these amazing veterans. We taste freedom every day because of the sacrifices and dedication they made to our country. I look forward to meeting these heroes and welcoming them to Oak Grove. Visit Clarksville has an amazing team and I look forward to partnering with them on future events,” she said.
The American Veteran Traveling Tribute Wall, an 80% replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., will return for the 2021 event, along with the Field of Honor-Veterans Tribute flag display and the Traveling Korean War Memorial, which is also a replica of the Korean Memorial in the nation’s capital.
Two new exhibits are also part of the lineup.
The General Tommy Franks Mobile Classroom and Road Show is a mobile museum designed to enhance and enrich the learning experience of students. Exhibits include cultural, social and geographical items and information from 25 countries from Africa, the Middle East and south-central Asia, including cultural dress, one-of-a-kind handcrafted items, children’s toys, ceremonial items and the first democratic ballot from Afghanistan.
The Cost of Freedom Tribute includes a dedicated Afghanistan and Iraq warrior’s tribute with all casualty names and Medal of Honor recipients for the Iran hostage situation, El Salvador civil war, Beirut, Lebanon barracks bombing, invasion of Grenada, Operation El Dorado Canyon Libya, U.S.S. Stark bombing, invasion of Panama, Cold War, Gulf War, Somalia, Khobar Towers, U.S.S. Cole bombing, along with World War I and World War II. Also included in the Cost of Freedom is a special tribute dedicated to the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, complete with timelines, casualty listings, Flight 11, Flight 175, Flight 77 and the Pentagon and Flight 93/PA. It is the only one in the country.
All exhibits will be free and open to the public from Sept. 16 at 9 a.m. through Sept. 19 at 9 a.m.
Other free activities will include:
• The Girl Who Wore Freedom award-winning documentary tells the stories of D-Day from the people who lived through German occupation and the Allied liberation of Normandy, France. Showings will be Sept. 16-17 at 2 p.m. at the Roxy Regional Theatre at 100 Franklin St. in Clarksville.
• Veterans and their families are invited to join the celebration for a picnic Sept. 16 at 5 p.m. at War Memorial Park in Oak Grove.
• A massing of the colors, tributes and a wreath laying will take place at 6:30 p.m., following the picnic at Oak Grove Gaming to honor the names listed on the tribute wall, Korean Memorial and Cost of Freedom Tribute.
• The sixth-annual Welcome Home Parade will wind through downtown Clarksville on Sept. 18, beginning at 10 a.m. JROTC cadets, marching bands, military vehicles and floats will gather to honor veterans.
Ticketed events will include:
• an opening dinner Sept. 15 at Oak Grove’s Valor Hall will feature a panel of speakers to discuss the 30th anniversary of Desert Storm.
• a Hero Breakfast on Sept. 16 at First Baptist Church will pair JROTC cadets with veterans and active-duty soldiers for a guided discussion and meal.
• hear Dave Carey, former U.S. Navy pilot, share his story at the Sept. 17 Valor Luncheon and Recognition at First Baptist Church in Clarksville. Drawing from his experiences as a prisoner of war for five and a half years, Carey reminds his audiences of the power of the human spirit to triumph over adversity; and that there are always choices. Carey’s clients have included IBM, Merck, 3M, Apple, Starbucks and many others. Among his military honors are the Legion of Merit, five Bronze Stars, two Meritorious Service Medals, the Purple Heart, eight Air Medals, and the Navy Commendation Medal. Quilts of Valor will also be presented during the gathering.
• a closing dinner at Oak Grove Gaming on Sept. 18 will take place in a room overlooking the racetrack.
• CMA male vocalist of the year, Grammy award winner and American patriot Lee Greenwood will perform at the amphitheater at Oak Grove Gaming. Local favorites Music 4 Mercy will open for Greenwood. Tickets will be available on Ticket Master.
Tickets are available for all events except the Greenwood concerts at welcomehomeveteranscelebration.com.
“We are always excited to welcome visitors to the great City of Clarksville, and we are always excited to honor America’s military veterans, so this event is the perfect opportunity to say, ‘welcome to Clarksville and thank you for your service.’ Have a great week and enjoy all our area has to offer,” said Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts.
“We are excited to welcome our military veterans from around our nation and the world once again to the annual Welcome Home Veterans Celebration. We hope our visitors will feel the love, patriotism and gratitude the good people of Montgomery County have for the service members who sacrificed on our behalf,” said Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett.