(WBIR - Blount County) Saturday, an East Tennessee community gathered to celebrate veterans who fought for the freedom of thousands of Americans, here, on our home soil.
Blount County residents gathered in a Maryville cemetery for Emancipation Day. The day marks the 150th anniversary of when former Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson released his slaves in Greeneville.
Soon after that date, slaves were allowed to join the Union Army in Tennessee. A descendent of a black Civil War soldier told 10News it's an important day that recognizes his relative's service.
"I think they are probably saying, 'finally, we are reclaiming our own history,'" said Ronald Coffin, of Maryville.
Historians estimate there were at least 80 black, Blount County veterans of the Civil War. At Saturday's event, community members also honored Civil War veteran, and Maryville resident, Sgt. Thomas Lillard by resetting his gravestone. It had fallen down in previous years.