American flags — including a giant one placed at the top of a fire engine’s ladder — waved in the chilly breeze and lined the entrance to Victory Baptist Church in Mt. Juliet last Friday to salute veterans at the annual Rotary clubs Veterans Breakfast.

The Breakfast and Noon Rotary Clubs hosted the event with Vietnam veteran Terry Ashe as the guest speaker.

More than 100 veterans and their guests came to the breakfast; some in wheelchairs, others with walkers and all beaming with pride.

There was a playing of “Taps” and display of “The Missing Man/Woman Table”. The table was set, but the glasses were turned upside down, honoring veterans and military members who are fallen or missing.

“Terry Ashe is the picture of a ‘home grown boy does well’,” said Wilson County Commissioner Diane Weathers in introducing Ashe.

Ashe served in the 101st Airborne Division Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division Infantry and the Tennessee Army Tank Division. He was awarded three Purple Hearts and one Bronze Star, Weathers said.

Ashe, the Wilson County Sheriff for 30 years, is now the Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Staff for the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. He received a standing ovation as he approached the podium. 

“We are here to honor all those present who have given so much to protect our freedoms,” he said. “…for your unwavering service. We say thank you to all who serve our county.”

He said the greatest hero in life was his dad, Sgt. Joe Ashe who served as a Marine in World War II.

“He served in many battles, as some of you have,” he said as he pointed out to the crowd. “These men and women right here are the reason we are here.”

He said people don’t want wars, but the sense of service remains.

“The men and women here would go back no matter how old they are,” Ashe said. “That’s what makes us different.”

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