February 25, 2022

Discovery Park of America Grows Annual Three-Day Military History and Armed Forces Symposium to Include All Six Branches of the Military

All active military, veterans, their guests and student groups will receive free admission to Discovery Park during all three days of this event.

Union City, Tenn. – Discovery Park of America is hosting its annual Military History and Armed Forces Symposium Friday, April 29 through Sunday, May 1, 2022. The event has grown significantly larger than previous years and will feature a variety of programs and interactive activities that explore the past, present and future of the American military. All active military, veterans, their guests and student groups will receive free admission to Discovery Park during all three days of this event.

Sponsored by Union City Coca-Cola and Dixie Gun Works, the Military History and Armed Forces Symposium features presentations from special guests, static and active demonstrations of military equipment and vehicles and gallery talks. Guests will also experience historical interpreters and period musicians throughout the museum and park.

In addition to bringing back the Lantern Walk this year, the event will include a members-only reception with entertainment provided by Operation Song and a Civil War-period ball with live music and dance instruction provided by the 52nd Regimental String Band. The band will also be performing during a church service held on Sunday morning.

Local Civil War memorabilia collector, Jason Pate, will be sharing some of his collection of rare photos in a special exhibit and presentation, “Hearing Voices of the Past Through Imagery.”

Friday’s events have been designed with students in mind and will provide both military- and history-related content perfect for school groups.

“For guests passionate about history and the military, this symposium is going to provide a lot to discover,” said Dr. Julie Hill, education events coordinator and lead member in planning the symposium. “Our education and exhibits team have put together three days that are packed with incredible activities highlighting our country’s military past, present and future.”

The list of those presenting from the main stage this year includes:

Many-Bears Grinder, first woman to serve as Commissioner for the Department of Veterans Services

Maj. Gen. Tommy H. Baker, commissioner for Tennessee’s Department of Veteran Services

Dr. Elvernice “Sonny” Davis, author of “Reflections of an Army Chaplain”

Sue Hoppin, nationally recognized expert on military spouse and family issues, working to bridge the cultural gap between government, private and public groups and military communities

Kevin Rumley, musician who made his personal journey from life as a homeless veteran suffering from drug addiction to a college graduate with a master’s degree in social work

Dr. David Coffey, professor of history at the University of Tennessee at Martin and author of several books, including “In Harm’s Way: A History of the American Military Experience”

Wanda Nelson Castellaw, Tennessee native with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in educational psychology and a passion for supporting military spouses

Retired Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, founder and CEO of Farmspace Systems, a company specializing in drone and aviation technology in agriculture, and 36-year veteran of the Marine Corps, where he held several commands, including chief of staff for the U. S. Central Command during the Iraq War

Bill Allen, World War II Navy medic who is one of the last remaining D-Day survivors

Lt. Col. Amber Saldaña, 17th Training Support Squadron commander and career active-duty Air Force intelligence officer

Retired Cmdr. Leanne Braddock, licensed marital and family therapist and 24-year veteran of the U.S. Navy

Those attending the event will also want to spend time exploring Discovery Park’s Military Gallery that can be found on two levels of the museum. The lower level contains a collection of military vehicles and weapons, as well as displays about the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and our current military conflicts. Displays about the Civil War, World War I and World War II can be found on the entry level, as well as an oral history theater that showcases stories shared by veterans.

All the programs, panel discussions and other events during the symposium are included with park admission or membership. Tickets to the Lantern Walk, members-only reception and Civil War-period ball are free but limited and must be reserved at

All active military, veterans, their guests and student groups will receive free admission to Discovery Park during all three days of this event. Group leaders wanting to request scholarships for student groups should email Sheridan Wells at or call 731-599-1132.