The Franklin County Commission will adopt an active-duty military unit to help show support for those who put their lives on the line to protect the country’s freedom.
County commissioners will be presented with the colors of the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery of the 101st Airborne during a ceremony at the Vietnam Moving Wall on Friday at 6 p.m.
The Moving Wall is making a stop at the Washington Fairgrounds Sept. 19-23.
County Counselor Mark Vincent said adopting the unit means that the county will be there to support the members.
“The plan is if there are people from that unit that need help with something after they get out or even while they’re in that we’ll be there to back them up and help them,” Vincent said.
He added that a sign may be put up on Interstate 44 coming into Franklin County to show the county’s affiliation with the unit.
County Veterans Services Coordinator Mike Pate said the county’s adoption of the unit is intended to show community support.
“It’s a morale builder,” Pate said. “I think it’s fantastic.”
He noted that the unit will be deploying to Afghanistan around February. The goal is to show the unit’s members that Franklin County cares about their sacrifices. There are many people in Franklin County who served with the 101st Airborne, he said.
The ceremony in which the commissioners will be presented with the colors will also include recognition of prisoners of war and those who have gone missing in action, Pate said.
“We’ve still got a lot of folks who are not accounted for,” Pate said.
The unit the county is adopting is based in Fort Campbell, Ky., and Pate’s nephew, Command Sgt. Maj. James Ackermann, will present the colors to the commissioners.
Pate said this may be the first time that a county has adopted a military unit, noting that some cities have done so.
The idea to adopt the unit came when Pate and Vincent started looking for ways to increase community support of veterans. Pate said another plan is to eventually construct a memorial in Franklin County for disabled veterans.
These are tough times for the military, and Pate said he wants the soldiers to know their service is appreciated and respected.
Community support for veterans could be shown in various ways such as discounts at bed and breakfasts and restaurants, Pate said.
If the county creates a climate that is friendly to veterans, the soldiers might stay here when they come home, he added.
“We’ve got to foster the idea that we all work together to make the community better,” Pate said.
The unit’s colors may also be put on display in the Franklin County Commission Chambers.