Veteran honors the fallen by taking care of memorial

Sept. 7, 2016: Knoxville firefighter Don Tipton honors his fellow veterans by mowing the lawn at the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial in downtown Knoxville each week.

There are 6,249 names on the East Tennessee Veteran's Memorial in Downtown Knoxville.

"This is somebody's dad, somebody's uncle, somebody's brother, somebody's child," said Don Tipton, a Knoxville firefighter and veteran.

Tipton has gotten to know the names on the wall over the last five years. He comes at least once a week to mow the lawn, weed eat, and make sure the memorial is taken care of.

"The least I can do is to make sure when their families come up to visit they have some place beautiful and that it looks nice," Tipton said.

Tipton has dedicated his life to service. He served 10 years in the U.S. Army and 10 years in the Tennessee Air National Guard.

He now serves as a full-time firefighter for the city of Knoxville. He is also an organizer for wounded veteran's home builds and volunteers as the leader of a group fighting veteran suicides - 22 Too Many Knoxville.

Through his work, he's come to know many of the families of East Tennessee's fallen soldiers.

"It makes it more personal to want to honor them, not just the kids on the wall, but their families when they come up to know that somebody cares enough to take care of this place," he said.

He doesn't see the task as a chore. Instead, he sees it as a privilege to give the family of the fallen and our community a sacred place to honor veterans.

"I think everybody should remember what they sacrificed so we can do what we do, live how we live and make the choices we make, is because of these men right here on the wall," he said.

If you would like to help, Tipton suggests visiting the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial Association website.

(© 2016 WBIR)


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