LAFOLLETTE, Tenn (WATE) — Members of the 1955 to 1975 graduating classes of LaFollette High School gathered over the weekend for a very special reunion.
A parade took place early Saturday morning followed by a ceremony honoring Veterans who have graduated from the school. The ceremony mainly focused on Vietnam Veterans, including those who never made it back home.
The family members and friends of George Heatherly, Bill Brooks Long, Dickie Reagan and Robert “Corky” Huddleston received recognition from the alumni.
All of the Vietnam veterans who attended the ceremony were those who didn’t get a proper welcome home.
“Being young and watching what happened when they came back and how badly they were treated broke my heart,” said Bill Long’s wife Paula Melvin.
She said this ceremony was long overdue.
Tannis Brown came all the way from Colorado Springs, Colorado to hear stories about the father she never got to meet.
“I didn’t know my father. He went into the military before my first birthday. He died when I was a year and a half, so I wanted to come because I wanted to hear stories about him,” she said.
She now has plenty of stories to go back home with,
“I always wondered where I got my love of softball from because I love softball. My dad was a baseball player. I learned that he was a good person, funny. I learned that even when they integrated the high school he didn’t have any issues with being African American.”
This reunion was a reminder of what high school was like for many and they want others to enjoy it while it lasts.
“Don’t take it for granted because it’s something you’ll always look back on and just you’ll always remember,” said Rosemary Polson who was part of the graduating class of 1976.
Her friend Dan McCullah who graduated in 1976 said some of his best memories were walking the high school hallways with his friends.
“I didn’t realize it at the time but it’s times that you never will forget.”
They also won’t forget their classmates who weren’t able to be at this reunion because they paid the ultimate sacrifice.
There are several events scheduled over the weekend for those who came for the reunion and Sunday a special memorial will be held for the soldiers who are buried in Lafollette.