6 ways to honor military sacrifice on Memorial Day around Chattanooga

Area veterans organizations and other groups are finalizing plans for Memorial Day events. Here are six ways to honor the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.

- Veterans ceremony: The Chattanooga Area Veterans Council will host a Memorial Day service at Chattanooga National Cemetery at 11 a.m. Monday. Bradley County American Legion Post 81 will be in charge of the ceremony. The keynote speaker is retired U.S. Navy Capt. Kevin West.

Participants must park at the National Guard Armory, 1801 S. Holtzclaw Ave., and ride a shuttle bus to the cemetery.

Alan Syler, a director with the council, said previous Memorial Day services have drawn the largest crowds of any commemorative events held in the cemetery.

"Pre-COVID, we'd have 800 to 1,000 people," he said in a phone interview.

After two idle years during the pandemic, some regulars may be out of the habit of attending, he said. The restriction on parking in the cemetery also may hinder the turnout.

"I hope we can see 400 or 500 there," he said. "It's supposed to be a nice day."

- Veterans ceremony: The city of East Ridge will hold its annual Memorial Day ceremony at 1:15 p.m. Monday beside Pioneer Frontier Park playground, 1509 Tombras Ave. A longstanding tradition, the event is spearheaded by American Legion Post 95, along with the Crestwood Garden Club and city personnel.

- Ruck March and Picnic: AARP has announced this all-ages event starting at 10 a.m. Monday at Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center, 3370 LaFayette Road.

The outing is seen as a way "to teach [younger generations] what Memorial Day is about," organizers said in news release.

A ruck march typically adds weight to a backpack to increase the intensity of the exercise, but that aspect of the march is not necessary, and participants are free to go at their own pace.

"Generally, we end up dividing into groups - a leader group, a middle group and the back-of-the-pack group," the news release said.

Signs will be posted to honor service members who were killed in action or classified as missing in action.

"During the ruck, we encourage you to spend time in prayer and reflection," the release said.

Participants who do not wish to walk may join the group at noon for a bring-your-own picnic at the Visitor Center.

- Motorcycle ride: Crockett Powersports, a motorcycle dealership at 4113 S. Access Road, will host a ride through Chattanooga National Cemetery and Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park on Monday.

Registration starts at 8:30 a.m., with kickstands up between 9:15 and 9:30 a.m. Riders will return to the dealership for lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers.

"We've had probably 10 rides in the last dozen years" except for the pandemic, said Gary Boyd, a ride captain, in a phone interview.

Turnout ranges from 40 to 100 bikes, "mostly dependent on the weather," he said.

The suggested donation is $20 per bike, $10 for an additional passenger. Money that is raised will go to Wreaths Across Chattanooga.

Call 423-718-7168 for more information.

- Exhibit unveiling: The Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center, 2 W. Aquarium Way, will unveil its latest exhibit at a cocktail reception 5-7 p.m. Monday.

The permanent installation honors Medal of Honor recipient Alexander Bonnyman Jr., a Knoxville Marine who was killed in action in World War II. Special guest will be Bonnyman's grandson, Clay Bonnyman Evans, author of the 2018 book "Bones of My Grandfather: Reclaiming a Lost Hero of World War II."

Tickets are $75 at the door for this adults-only gathering. Learn more at mohhc.org.

- Moment of silence: On Dec. 28, 2000, then-President Bill Clinton signed into law the National Moment of Remembrance Act, which designates 3 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, wherever you are, for a minute of silence to remember the military personnel who have given their lives for their country.

Contact Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6281.