May 15, 2024

The Longest Armed Forces Day

Say “thank you” to spouses and family members of those who have and continue to serve our nation.

“When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen; and we shall most sincerely rejoice with you in the happy hour when the establishment of American Liberty, upon the most firm and solid foundations shall enable us to return to our Private Stations in the bosom of a free, peacefully and happy Country.” —George Washington (1775)

On the third Saturday in May, we observe and celebrate Armed Forces Day (AFD) — grateful for the service and sacrifice of all who have gone before and those who are serving today. Here in Chattanooga, our community turns out en masse.

The annual Armed Forces Day parade and related events marked its 75th anniversary this year. The parade itself is usually held ahead of Armed Forces Week, ensuring that thousands of students can both participate and observe the military procession before schools recess for the summer.

The parade’s Grand Marshal this year, Army Vice Chief of Staff GEN James Mingus, noted, “Chattanooga has the longest running Armed Forces Day parade in the nation,” which, in addition to being the birthplace of the Medal of Honor, is why it is widely recognized as “the most patriotic city in the nation.” Indeed, the first official parade here was held in 1949, though there were unofficial events earlier.

At the AFD event following the parade, GEN Mingus and his wife Amy were introduced by Chattanooga’s ranking flag officer, GEN B.B. Bell (USA, Ret.). Our regular readers will recognize his name because B.B. has been an analytical contributor to The Patriot Post for years. (We co-chair the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center sustaining fund.)

GEN Bell provided a brief history of Armed Forces Day, which was codified by the Secretary of Defense in 1949 to combine the separate Army, Navy, and Air Force Days. As our Marine readers know, the Marine Corps declined to discontinue observing Marine Corps Day, but the Marines fully support our national AFD. (For the record, The Patriot Post observes the anniversary of the formation of all our military service branches.)

B.B. noted that the Grand Marshals of Chattanooga’s first AFD parade were regional WWI and WWII Medal of Honor recipients, including, most famously, Sergeant Alvin C. York, whose life story was immortalized in the film “Sergeant York.” In a vintage Jeep with SGT York driving (as pictured below) were, left to right, Sergeant Major Paul B. Huff, Sergeant Charles H. Coolidge, and Sergeant Raymond H. Cooley.

I am not sure what banter Alvin York was carrying on with his fellow Tennesseans, but I can imagine! That is a remarkable concentration of Valor and Patriotism in one vehicle. Guests of honor at this year’s 75th celebration were SGT York’s descendants, our friends COL Gerald York (USA, Ret.), Debbie York (chairman of the York Patriotic Foundation), and a granddaughter, Angela York.

On most national military service recognition days, I profile an active-duty warrior or a Veteran — those who have honored their sacred oaths “to support and defend” our nation — similar to my weekly Profiles of Valor.

But too often overlooked at military recognition events are the spouses and families of those serving or who have served. Even in “the most patriotic city in the nation,” while we always recognize Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Spouses at annual events, other spouses and family members were overlooked. That is until I set out to correct that oversight.

Years ago, I made it a personal goal to ensure that spouses and families of service personnel and Veterans are recognized at ALL military events. My wife is the mother of a Marine Infantry Officer, and it required a lot of her to send our son off to serve. However, our son’s wife and his kids have sacrificed enormously, as do all military spouses and families, upending lives for military station moves, enduring absences for Marine battalion deployments, etc.

In fact, I find military spouses an amazing breed — it is they who really form the foundation of our national defense. They do their best to hold it all together through the most difficult times, often without much assistance because in many cases they have moved to military base locations where they don’t have any family or close friends to stand in the gap.

As for the spouses of Veterans — millions of whom have suffered combat injuries and illnesses, some visible and some not visible — their devotion is also unrivaled.

Thus, this year, I want to introduce you to a Veteran’s spouse, a person whose name you may also recognize along with that of GEN Bell because she writes The Patriot Post’s weekly history lesson — Linda Moss Mines. I had known her name for years, not only because she was a former outstanding American history teacher who instilled in my daughter the spirit of Patriotism she embodies today, but also because you can’t live in East Tennessee without running across her name.

I did not know Linda well until about a decade ago when I had the opportunity to serve with her husband, Tony Mines, on an Advisory Board as we launched the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center. In 1968, Tony, inspired by his family’s military service record, volunteered for Army service as the Vietnam War was at its hottest. He completed basic training at Fort Bragg and deployed to South Vietnam (Mekong Delta) with the Ninth Infantry, 709 Service and Evacuation Unit, as an E5.

I was blessed to spend many hours with Tony and Linda talking about family history and solving the world’s problems. I think we must be long-lost relatives because we share so much regional Revolutionary War Patriot history. Tony is descended from Patriots who fought in Virginia and North Carolina. Among my ancestors are those who fought with John Sevier’s Overmountain Men at Kings Mountain. Linda had a Patriot ancestor who was killed on the way to Ft. Watauga at the time my ancestors were mustering for the Overmountain march. And her ancestors fought at Camden and Cowpens before and after Kings Mountain.

Moreover, Alvin York and his kin are Linda’s kin, and she says they are forever bonded by his inspirational love of country and unwavering faith. I can claim a line to old Sam Houston, but I sure would like to claim Alvin York!

In December 2018, Tony was diagnosed with Leukemia. In October 2019, he departed from this life, leaving his family and a multitude of friends, especially this one, grieving. He was a proud Patriot Veteran. Yes, Tony was faithful, and his suffering was over, but his absence was felt far and wide.

I have witnessed too many faithful Veteran friends depart “before their time,” which I know was precisely their time, and I have seen too often how difficult that has been on spouses.

But Linda Mines is a Grassroots American Patriot of the first order, a staunch defender of American Liberty, and she honors the memory of Tony and their long Tennessee family lines through acts of service at a pace that I find, frankly, exhausting to consider.

So, for some inspiration, let me give you a snapshot of this special Veteran spouse’s life to explain why she is high on the list of the most upright and energetic Patriots I know.

Linda is a historian dedicated to reminding the public of the blessings of Liberty and our commitment to work toward the promises of the American Dream. She relishes telling the stories of our country’s founding and its journey from the earliest settlers as a “noble experiment in self-government.” She believes that recounting history reminds citizens that decisions and actions have consequences and that we as a people are impacted every day by decisions made during the course of that journey.

She observes: “It is important that a nation know and understand the pivotal moments of its history. Too often, our images of the past are a composite of classroom memories, popular culture images crafted by media productions, and a smattering of editorial musings often grounded only in personal opinion and experience. As a historian, I, of course, offer some interpretation of those moments, but I am far more interested in the role of the public figures and the ‘common people’ and what motivated them than in the role of politics for political gain. Revisiting the past offers us a chance to understand today and shape tomorrow.”

After completing her M.A. and Ed.D., Linda taught in public and private high schools, colleges, and universities and coordinated private sector training programs. As a lifelong educator, Linda notes, “Knowledge coupled with a dedication to service can truly change the world, and I’m blessed to be a small part of that change.”

She currently serves as Co-Chairman, Congressional Medal of Honor 2025 National Convention; Secretary, Chattanooga Area Veterans Council; Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board and Vice-President for Education for the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center; official historian, Chattanooga and Hamilton County; State Historian and Trustee, Tennessee Genealogical Society; Honorary Regent, Chief John Ross Chapter, NSDAR; Current Trustee and Immediate Past Board Chairman of the largest hospital in our region; Leadership Committee, Women of Distinction; Education Committee, Chattanooga and Chickamauga National Military Park; and is a member of numerous historical associations and clubs.

Did I mention reenactments? She performs in schools and other venues as Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, telling the story of the only woman who holds a Medal of Honor.

Linda has key roles with 14 additional organizations and retains folders full of notable awards and honors — she is too humble to hang such things on walls. Amazingly, she manages all these responsibilities professionally and still meets her Patriot Post deadline each week.

See what I mean by the most upright and energetic Patriot I know? Are you exhausted now and need a little nap? You know, just a typical Veteran spouse…

Linda Moss Mines’s character is shaped most by her deep and abiding faith, which manifests as a heart of gratitude, and you can’t spend a minute around her without catching it.

Like so many spouses and family members of active-duty personnel and Veterans, she is unstoppable.

This Armed Forces Day, when contemplating what “hero” really means, be sure to say “thank you” to spouses and family members of those who have and continue to serve our nation.

And finally, two enduring historical observations to close…

First would be these words from Alexander Hamilton in 1775: “There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.”


Second would be this observation from John Adams in 1776, words that ring true today: “I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means.”

We should all “see that the end is more than worth all the means.”

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

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The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service to our uniformed service members and veterans, are proud to support and promote the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, both the Honoring the Sacrifice and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs aiding wounded veterans, the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, the Folds of Honor outreach, and Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, and Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)


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