Veterans Day in Western North Carolina: history, remembrance, celebration

Posted on 10/12/21 by Margie Sigman

Chimney Rock

Western North Carolina has a long history of hosting, helping, and honoring veterans, whether they grew up here or came here during or after their service. As far back as the 1880s, when tuberculosis, or “The White Plague,” was the leading cause of death in the United States, the Asheville area was a leading treatment center for vets as well as civilians.

During World War I, the US Army built General Hospital No. 19, now the Asheville VA Medical Center in Oteen, first to serve soldiers training for duty overseas, and later to treat soldiers stricken with TB. Now operated by the Veteran’s Administration, this large facility was for a long time was the only VA hospital in the Southeast devoted to treating respiratory ailments. Today, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Fast-forward to November 2021, when WNC is still recovering from a very different plague. Plans for in-person Veterans Day celebrations were pretty much cancelled in 2020, although many AARP volunteers made sure to write letters and cards to send or deliver to veterans in in our area. November 2021 in WNC promises to be a hybrid situation of Zoom events, limited in-person events, and of course letter-writing. Stay tuned to the AARP NC Facebook page or the AARP Mountain NC website for details.

Flags for Heroes Rotary Club of Burnsville’s Flags for Heroes celebration, now in its second year, is a real treat. Imagine hundreds of American flags around the town square, each honoring a hero––perhaps a veteran, teacher, parent, nurse, firefighter––whoever is a hero. Mountain Piecemaker’s Quilt Guild will be donating homemade quilts made for veterans from Madison, Mitchell, and Yancey counties at the celebration in honor of Veterans Day on November 11 at 10:00 AM in Burnsville Town Square. On November 13 at 11:00 AM, there will be a Heroes Celebration recognizing all heroes in the town square.  

Veterans Museum Plan to visit the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas, now open Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00 AM–3:00 PM, in Brevard. The Museum’s well-maintained displays tell the stories of soldiers from WWI to the present. A special Veterans Day observance will take place on Thursday, November 11, from 11:00 to 11:45 AM. This event will feature a keynote address by Ken Corn, Iraq War Correspondent who now works for WLOS TV, plus a traditional observance by the Transylvania County Honor Guard and DAR.  This will be followed by a launching of the book, "The Forgotten War Remembered: Korean War Veterans’ Stories In Their Own Words," including book-signing by the author Michael McCarthy and local Korean War veterans.

Free Park Admission! Veteran’s Day Special from Chimney Rock State Park: Free Admission for Veterans, November 8–12 (and discounts for their families). The park is located at 431 Main Street, Chimney Rock, NC. From their website: “Veterans, reservists, retired and active military personnel are our American heroes, and Chimney Rock would like to honor your service with a free visit to Chimney Rock State Park from November 8–12, 2021. Must present military ID or proof of service.”

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