CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — UPDATE: Among the thousands of servicemen and women buried at the Chattanooga National Cemetery, now lies one of the Scenic City’s most notable war heroes.
Charles H. Coolidge died last Wednesday at the age of 99. Flags across the State of Tennessee flew at half staff on Friday as Chattanooga native and Medal of Honor recipient was laid to rest.
Dozens of Chattanooga residents lined the streets of South Holtzclaw Avenue on Friday as a processional carried World War II Medal of Honor Recipient Charles Coolidge to his final resting place.
“It was a solemn moment. It was sadness and happiness at the same time. A great person has died but at the same time, we’re celebrating all of his accomplishments,” 8th-grade student Will Terrell told Channel 3, a sister station of WBIR in Chattanooga.
On Friday, he and other students from McCallie School went to pay their respects to the man they’d been learning about in history class.
“He did some incredible things in his life,” Terrell said.
Melissa Whitaker, a resident and the wife of a National Guardsman, brought her two young daughters just weeks after their first trip to the Charles H. Coolidge Heritage Center in Downtown.
“We were very saddened that in a couple of weeks after we had visited that he had passed … Coolidge is a very, very important name around here. [He was a] true American hero. He needs to be remembered and honored,” she said.
US Navy Veteran Willis Council brought his boy and girl scout troops with hopes they would see Coolidge as a shining example of what it means to be an American and that his memory will live on through the next generation.
“For such a humble individual, he did so much for his community and his country. That’s the big thing … what he did in World War II is above and beyond,“ he said.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to the Charles H. Coolidge Heritage Center and First Presbyterian Church.
If you weren’t able to make it to any of the events, you can still sign the condolences book, which will be on display in the front lobby of the Heritage Center until Sunday.
PREVIOUS STORY: While preparations for the home-going service of Charles H. Coolidge are underway, Chattanooga residents were among those who showed up to Heritage Funeral Home on Thursday to honor the man who led by example.
A public visitation service for the Chattanooga native and Medal of Honor recipient marked the start of a two-day salute to the scenic city’s most notable war hero.
“Charles Coolidge was one of the last two surviving Medal of Honor recipients from World War 2. Now with his death that leaves only one Medal of Honor recipient,” said Keith Hardison of the Charles H. Coolidge Heritage Center.
Coolidge, who died last Wednesday at the age of 99, was most known for his bravery in leading a group of 27 men in combat against German troops.
“They saved the world as we know it,” Hardison told Channel 3. On Thursday, people gathered to reflect on his legacy—one Hardison knew well.
“He was a person who inspired individuals by the type of life he led. He had those Medal of Honor characteristics such as integrity, patriotism..” he said.
The visitation service was from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The funeral, which is also open to the public, is set for Friday at 11:00 am.
“It is at the First Presbyterian Church downtown. There is limited seating, so I would encourage folks to get there early,” Hardison said.
A processional from the church to the National Cemetery for a private ceremony will follow. For those who can’t make it, both the funeral and the burial will be live-streamed.
People can also pay their respects by signing a condolences book currently on display in the front lobby of the Heritage Center downtown.
Instead of flowers, the family of Charles Coolidge is asking for donations to the Heritage Center or to First Presbyterian Church.