PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Aug. 11, 2014) – A caravan down the Parkway to mark the arrival of a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial has been added to a multi-day salute to America’s veterans in Pigeon Forge this month.
The major events are Aug. 21-24 and include the Celebrate Freedom Welcome Home Vietnam Parade on Aug. 23. The arrival of the memorial replica will get special attention on Aug. 20.
The replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of several “Cost of Freedom” memorials and exhibits organized by the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, a self-funded and veteran-owned organization.
“We want to draw special attention to the memorial and invite interested citizens to provide an escort when it arrives in Pigeon Forge,” said Pete Smith, an organizer of the Smoky Mountain Military and Relic Show, another event in the larger salute to veterans.
Veteran-led honor guards will participate, and anyone wanting to be part of the escort, which is sponsored by the Titanic Museum Attraction, Smoky Mountain Resorts and the Collier Restaurant Group, is invited to assemble at the Titanic starting at 4 p.m. Aug. 20 (Wednesday).
The caravan will travel from the Titanic to the Smoky Mountain Convention Center starting at 5:30 p.m. The exhibit will be free to the public Aug. 21-24.
Other special events for veterans include:
- The Celebrate Freedom Welcome Home Vietnam Parade at 10 a.m. Aug. 23. While billed as “the parade they never got” for Vietnam veterans, it honors all veterans. Entertainer Louise Mandrell is the grand marshal. The special events office of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism is organizing the parade.
- A “Salute to Patriots” at the Smoky Mountain Opry on Aug. 21.
- “Radio Saigon,” a dinner and presentation of Vietnam-era music, on Aug. 22 at the Grand Majestic Theater.
- A special show at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede on Aug. 23.
- A “Sunday Morning Remembrance” program with the Blackwoods on Aug. 24 at the Smoky Mountain Opry.
- Free admission at the Titanic Museum Attraction for veterans with military identification or papers Aug. 21-24. Anyone accompanying a veteran receives a military discount.
- Free admission to the Smoky Mountain Military and Relic Show for veterans and active duty personnel Aug. 23-24.
- Free breakfast for veterans at the Golden Corral on Aug. 23 from 7-10 a.m. before the Welcome Home Vietnam Parade.
US Tours has packaged the various elements of the event. Tour information is available at WelcomeHomeVietnam.com.
“An additional way for veterans’ families to honor their veterans is to nominate someone for recognition at the military and relic show. Nominating someone is as simple as going online to NominateYourVeteran.com,” Smith said.