Chapel Hill celebrates 200th birthday

Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Demi Davis and Kelsey Wortham coming down the slide in the inflatable kids zone.

By Anthony S. Puca

Staff Writer

What is more American than snow cones, sweet tea, cotton candy, fireworks, rock and roll, and a Fourth of July celebration that honors the veterans who preserve our freedom?

The two hundred year homecoming celebration in Chapel Hill on Independence Day, dedicated to the erection of veteran's monument in Larry Lewter Memorial Park, started with a pancake breakfast at the United Methodist Church at 7 a.m. and ended with a barrage of fireworks that lit up the town's dark summer sky just after 10 p.m.

In between, Forrest cross country stand-out, Quinton Watkins got the trophy for his early morning marathon run, a coed adult softball tournament somehow magnified the abilities of our youth, Scooter Paul was dunked more than a glazed doughnut, the cotton candy man made more money than Exxon on the day, and strangely clad sumo wrestlers teetered and tottered, eventually falling down.

Service to the freedom of all Americans has come at a high cost since the founding of our country by the service of men and women in the military. Tennesseans have always been at this country's beck and call, serving and giving their lives, all over the world.

After the raising of Old Glory on the flagpole at the north end of the old Lions Club football field by Lamar Leonard, leader of the local veterans movement, Chapel Hill mayor Carl Copper spoke to the crowd and said, "The thing we are doing here today no one can argue about.

"Looking at the veterans at the flagpole makes us realize what we are doing can keep their names forever. They are the ones that make it possible for us to be here. I am just not talking about recent wars, but for all their service throughout our history. We are pleased and proud to stand here today, for them."

On hand for the dedication was Senator Bill Ketron who said, "I am honored to be a Tennessean and honored to be here in Chapel Hill. Thank God for the many blessings we have and to the many Americans and Tennesseans who have given their lives for our freedom. We have so much to be proud of, looking back on our history as our ancestors have laid the foundation to our freedom. Tennesseans have always been quick to answer when our nation calls."

Jesse Heath & the Guns for Hire Band got the patriotic blood stirring with some old fashioned southern rock and roll songs dedicated to the men and women of the armed forces. American Pride and Combat Boots, a song written by lead singer Jesse Ingram at 5 a.m. on the Fourth of July last year, set the mood that would prevail the remainder of the event.

"I am patriotic," said Ingram after his band's rousing performance. "My grandfather served in WWII and my dad served in Vietnam. If it were not for them, we would not be here. I think too many people take our freedom for granted."

Rory Feek and Joey Martin, currently on CMT's 'Can you Duet' wowed the huge evening crowd with a great performance and then the much anticipated 'Backbeat-A Tribute to the Beatles' show capped off the musical playbill.

It was a day honoring the vets and freedom and what is more symbolic of Americana than the sights and sounds of all the youngsters running and playing about on our nation's freedom day. There must have been many sleepy kids Saturday morning after a fun filled day of frolicking through the inflatable kid's zone, dunking their favorite coach in the dunk tank, and filling their bellies with the foods that we have all been eating since our childhood.