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Memorial Day is a day in which those who died in active military service are remembered, traditionally observed on May 31. The Grundy County Board of Education provided funds to place a slant marker in front of each flagpole at every school in Grundy County in memory of and to honor Mr. Y.B. Ashby. Administration, faculty, staff, and students met at the flagpole at 10:00 a.m. on Memorial Day for a special remembrance ceremony, which included The Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence.
At Swiss Memorial Elementary School, Principal Kasey Woodlee gave praise to Y.B. Ashby and all who have laid their lives on the line for our country to a crowd of faculty, staff, students, and parents.
SMES teacher Thomas Andrews spoke to students about what Memorial Day is and why it is important to follow the tradition of flying the U.S. flag at half-staff. Teacher Kimberly McBee also spoke to the students about why it is so important to remember the sacrifices of fallen heroes. She also praised Mr. Ashby for his efforts of promoting the children and their accomplishments and pointed out that Mr. Ashby was a good role model as a Christian, family man, and a hard worker. She urged the students to follow his example and to remember that one person can make a difference.
Taylor Jones, 5, from Karen Coffelt’s Kindergarten, led the Pledge of Allegiance, and eighth grader Megan Shrum sang The National Anthem. Eighth grade boys, Stuart Guyear, Joshua Nance, and Hunter Baker respectfully and properly cared for the U.S. and Tennessee flags during the outdoor ceremony.
During his lifetime, Y.B. Ashby promoted the positive aspects of Grundy County and its people, especially the children. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corp 14th Air Force, also known as “The Flying Tigers” and served in China, Burma, and India as a photographer and Theater Operator Armed Forces Radio Manager. In 1975, he was awarded the 14th Air Force Medal at an A.F. Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. Anna Chenault, widow of General Claire Chenault, Commander of the 14th Air Force and ambassador Chin from Republic of China presented the medal.
Y.B. Ashby is best known as preacher and a crusader for Grundy County’s Veterans. He was the founder of the Grundy County Veterans Historical Society. For decades, Mr. Ashby sponsored a Memorial Day Program to recognize all local deceased veterans. He also presented memorial plaques to family members in attendance to remind them that the service of their loved one was very much appreciated. The plaques were given at local funeral homes every Memorial Day.
Mr. Ashby made sure that all of Grundy County’s deceased veterans were listed in the Grundy County Herald in the Memorial Day edition. Y.B. also recognized both living and deceased veterans on GCTV every November 11. On Veterans’ Day Mr. Ashby chose a Veteran of the Year and on July 4th, he chose a Patriot of the Year, someone that was a champion for veterans and the community. He also played the taps bugler at local military funerals and took photographs of the ceremony, taking the time to mail them to the loved ones of the deceased.
With his desire to uplift the people and accentuate the positive, Ashby was a spearhead for improving our media outlets in order to give “Good News” through the Grundy County Post that he created in the 1980’s. The purpose of GC Post was to promote children and their accomplishments, to preserve the history of Grundy County, and to uplift our precious veterans and make them understand how important they are, to Grundy County and our country. He helped to launch the first television station, Grundy County TV, as well as our first gospel radio station WSGM 104.7 FM.
Ashby helped form the first Grundy County Chamber of Commerce and held the position of Executive Chair for many years. All of this was done with the hope of promoting Grundy County and its people, giving the citizens of this county a sense of pride in their communities and their neighborhoods, while using the media sources to educate residents by airing local events and happenings.
Mr. Ashby was also involved with many other endeavors and events which are too numerous to mention. Y.B. is sadly missed.