Recent tragedies over the last couple of weeks have underscored why they call Tennessee the Volunteer State. Although we gained the nickname in the War of 1812 for our state’s role in sending far more than the requested number of volunteers into battle, that moniker is still alive and well in Tennessee.
When our neighbors in Humphreys County were hit by the worst flash flood in our state’s history, volunteers from across Tennessee rushed to their aid. Some were part of search and rescue teams, while others helped with the clean-up, provided needed supplies, or sent donations. Many volunteers were there just to lift the spirits of those affected or to help them get back to as close of a sense of normalcy as possible in some of the worst conditions imaginable.
Many of our state’s volunteers also have come to the aid of our neighbors to the south in Louisiana. Tennesseans from many walks of life have volunteered to support people in need and to bring food and relief supplies to areas hit hard by Hurricane Ida.
Our Tennessee National Guard service members are also providing aid in both Humphreys County and Louisiana. The men and women of our Tennessee National Guard volunteer for service to our state and nation and are heroes to many of us. They were on the ground in Humphreys County immediately to assist with recovery and relief efforts. In addition, Guard soldiers have been activated in response to Hurricane Ida where they have assisted with security, transportation, and search and recovery operations, among other critical tasks.
These two weather-related disasters are in addition to our National Guard’s ongoing engagement with COVID-19 support statewide. By the end of August, our Guard service members were supporting 13 medical facilities across the state in fighting the pandemic. Thousands of our soldiers have volunteered to help over the last 18 months, including support for Tennessee’s testing and vaccination efforts. Our state is very indebted to the service that they give each day.
Finally, we pay tribute to U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss, a Tennessean who was killed in the recent terrorist attack at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Knauss’ grandfather said he was motivated to volunteer because he loved his country. It was his second deployment to Afghanistan. He will forever be remembered for his selfless sacrifice as he gave everything for the state and country that he loved.
Yes, we continue to see our state’s proud history of volunteerism today as much as we did when our state was established. This comes in both heroic sacrifices and in many other acts of kindness where our citizens rush to help those in need. I am very thankful to live in the Volunteer State where people believe in service to others and “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way to fulfill the law of Christ” Galatians 6:2.