Hardeman County Observes Patriot Day

"I survived and after all, isn't that what we did," said Cory. "We survived."

On September 11, Hardeman County residents not only remembered the fallen from the terrorist attacks of 2001 but also celebrated the resolve in America since that time at the “Cry Out America” program.  Coordinators, Eddie Kessler and Nancy Hammons brought music, prayer and patriotism to court square.  The keynote speaker told about the life of an army wife and challenged the community to support the entire military family.The program opened with a prayer, the national anthem performed by Krystal Boyd and the Pledge of Allegiance.  The crowd observed a flyover and Missing Man Formation by Tennessee Helicopter Services and Hospital Wing.  The flyover was dedicated to the 9/11 victims and the 251st TN Army National Guard who is currently deployed to Afghanistan.  The lead helicopter carried keynote speaker, Andrea Lynne Cory.  Cory was flown by pilot, Jimmy Sain for the tribute maneuver.  The Missing Man formation was performed in honor of Cory’s husband, the late Army LTC Commander Rennie Cory Jr. of Ft Bragg, NC.Cory’s husband was killed in a helicopter crash on April 7, 2001 while recovering the remains of MIA’s (Missing In Action) from the Vietnam War.  Cory voiced her appreciation for having the chance to take her first flight in a helicopter.“Being part of the ‘Missing Man Flyover’ ceremony on 9/11 this year has probably been one of the major highlights I’ve experienced in honor of my husband, Rennie,” said Cory.  “At the last minute, as we flew over the crowd, the choppers on the right and left pulled away and we climbed straight up into the heavens.  It made me cry.”The program continued with songs performed by Boyd and Tiffany Watkins and prayers by local pastors.  The color guard was provided by Middleton American Legion.  Kessler said the day was an overall success.“The program went really well and I was pleased with everyone involved,” said Kessler.  “I can’t take all the credit, we have a committee to organize the event and Nancy Hammons helped as a coordinator.  We have been doing this for about five years and we look forward to the years to come.”  Cory, escorted and introduced by Bolivar Mayor Barrett Stevens, is best known as the inspiration for “Claudia Joy Holden” on Lifetime’s hit series, “Army Wives”.  She brought a message of survival and a call to action to the community.As a result of her husband’s death, Cory and their children learned first-hand the price that is paid by many families of fallen soldiers.  Cory speaks as an advocate for families affected by this type of loss with no regard to whether a soldier’s life ended in battle or after their service was completed.“Each soldier is a hero,” said Cory.  “It does not matter if they are KIA (killed in action) or NCRD (non-combat related death).”As she spoke to the crowd, she said she did not fight for herself but for other families and widows who experience loss and do not receive the support and benefits that are due them.“If you asked anyone here today, ‘if you were not to return home tomorrow, what would you want for your family?’ They would say, ‘take care of my family; make sure my family is provided for.’  That’s what every soldier wants as well, but somehow we are not doing that,” said Cory  Members of the crowd met Cory with gratitude.“As the widow of one of America’s wounded warriors, I appreciate Andrea Lynne Cory’s story and knowing there are those who haven’t forgotten the families who pray for our heroes,” said Jackie Smith (wife of the late Army Sgt. James L. Smith).  “I like to think I am patriotic, I make an extra effort to attend events that honor God, our country, our military and our first responders.  I’m thankful our community can still come together to pray publicly.  I am also thankful and proud that my son and two nephews continue our family’s willingness to serve.”  Cory reminded the crowd to not only support the military but to join in the cause to make benefits readily available to military families.             “We gave millions to the families of the 9/11 victims as well we should have,” said Cory.  “But let’s not forget that the widows and children of soldiers are not always receiving what the soldiers are promised.”            The commander’s widow closed with a somber statement that reminded us why we celebrate Patriot Day.            “I survived and after all isn’t that what we did?” said Cory in reference to the suffering following 9/11 as well as her personal loss.  “We survived.”