TOP PHOTO: Rick Myers plays Amazing Grace on his bagpipes as the crowds looks on and listens.

Ericka McCarty sings at her father Siler’s ceremony on Thursday morning standing behind a photo of him taken at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Washington, D.C.

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Lots of friends and family gathered on Pleasant Ridge Thursday morning as fog gave way to bright sunshine. They were there in honor and memory of war veteran, law enforcement officer and rural letter carrier Siler McCarty. McCarty, who passed away last week, was laid to rest at Pleasant Ridge Cemetery.

From the opening prayer of Reverend Johnny Vanover to Rick Myers bagpipe tribute, it was a moving ceremony of song and reflection on McCarty’s nearly 75-years of life. However, it was the first song of the morning, sung by McCarty’s youngest daughter, Ericka, that set the tone for the service.

Members of the Campbell County Honor Guard fold Old Glory to present to Emma McCarty during her husband Siler’s service.

National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association Chaplain Gary Wilder delivered a tribute to Siler, the rural mail carrier, and explained how hard it was to make remarks as he saw the representation of military, law enforcement, letter carriers and family gathered on the ridge. He referenced the long funeral procession which passed under a giant US Flag hanging from the La Follette Fire Department’s ladder unit on the South Cumberland Avenue hill. “Siler distanced himself as a leader long before joining the postal service,” said Wilder.

Siler and his wife Emma, long time rural letter carriers until retirement, were very active in the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association. “They brought the association into the computer age. So, when I think of Siler, I think of service; military, police and mail carrier,” said Wilder.

A tribute song in memory of McCarty, the Specialist 5, U.S. Army Psychological Operations (PSYOPS Warrior), was played. It was Soldier’s Angel by Stevie Nicks. Siler served in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam in the city of Can Thos from 1966 until 1968.

Reverend Vanover read from Thessalonians followed by the 23rd Psalm. “Life is full of valleys more than mountains, and the Lord is with us through it all,” said the tall pastor as he stooped to stand under the tent where family sat.

Vanover told the large crowd that he’d known Siler for almost 50-years. The two met as officers with the La Follette Police Department when Siler was Vanover’s training officer.

La Follette Police was represented in McCarty’s procession.

“Siler stood in the gap when called to war at Vietnam followed by 13-years in law enforcement. He answered the call and stood in the gap,” said Vanover. He also applauded Emma for her care of Siler. “What I’ll remember is the respect shown today,” he said.

Then as the sun glared through the fog, the timing was almost perfect as Tim Worman stepped up with his fiddle. He fittingly played I Saw the Light.

Hugh Don Hatmaker, the longest serving active honor guard member in the Campbell County Honor Guard, salutes while Emma McCarty cradles the flag she was just presented. McCarty’s son, Jared, and daughter, Ericka, look on.

Vanover read Siler’s obituary that included a glimpse into his service from earning the coveted Soldier’s Medal for being one of three soldiers to rescue a fellow soldier from a vehicle that burst into flames to serving as a sergeant for the LPD. His longest tenure of service was 36-years as a rural letter carrier. He was selected as the Tennessee “Rural Carrier of the Year” in 1998. 

Before the closing prayer from Chaplain Wilder, the morning’s final song played was a tribute from Siler’s wife and soulmate Emma. It was A Song for You, by Leon Russell.

The Campbell County Honor Guard honored McCarty with a 21-gun salute. Taps was played as the US Flag over McCarty’s urn was folded and presented to Emma.

Myers walks away signaling the conclusion of the ceremony.

Amazing Grace was played by Rick Myers as he stood a good distance away from the crowd. He soon walked away all the while still playing the song on his bagpipes signaling the conclusion of the nearly hour long service. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 10/15/2021-6AM-PHOTOS COURTESY OF WLAF’S CHARLIE HUTSON)

One Reply to “McCarty honored, remembered in Thursday morning ceremony”

  1. Siler was a great man and a great friend. My life is richer for having known him. May he rest in peace and Emma be comforted in her time of grief

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