CADES COVE, Tenn. (WATE) — Medal of Honor Recipients and their families were welcomed to Cades Cove for a special program.

Thirty-six of the 65 living Medal of Honor Recipients and their families are in Knoxville for the Medal of Honor Celebration. The week features activities focused around reuniting the recipients of the United States’ highest military award for valor.

Park staff and volunteers who had previously served in the military greeted the group of 60 people at the Cades Cove Visitor Center area. The group was then given a guided tour through Cades Cove. Visitors were able to explore the Primitive Baptist Church and the cemetery where 16 veteran graves are marked by American flags. Participants also were able to traditional music, demonstrations, and explore the grist mill, cantilever barn, and other historic structures.

They also visited the Pearl Harbor tree which was planted on December 7, 1941. Cades Cove resident Golman Myers planted the tree to commemorate the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Myers’ youngest son, Bernard Myers, who was 4 years old when the tree was planted, shared the memory with attendees.

“Today we facilitated a very special opportunity to honor these American heroes for their service to our country,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “In Cades Cove, they were able to experience the gift of rest and renewal that a visit to the Smokies provides to millions of visitors each year.”

During the visit, Vietnam veteran employees were also presented with commemorative lapel pins to honor their service.

The event also caused Cades Cove Loop Road to be temporarily closed to the public until 3:30 p.m. to accommodate the Medal of Honor Recipients and their security detail.