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Changing of the Guards with Old Glory

At Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC, the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” is guarded 24 hours a day by marching active-duty military guards with rifles against any who would deface or vandalize this final resting place of the unknown American Soldier who lies within. In carrying on this tradition, they pay tribute and honor to all of the fallen soldiers as worthy of our dedicated and unrelenting honor and tribute. It is considered quite the honor for active-duty military to be given the chance to become one of the guards there. The guards are changed every half-hour to one hour, depending on the season of the year. This “Changing of the Guard” can be viewed at any time of day by the over three million tourists visiting Arlington every year.

old glory cabin
Front view of Old Glory

It is not unusual for cabins to change ownership in the Smoky Mountains on occasion. What is unusual about this particular cabin’s change of ownership is that it has been owned and cared for by the same owner for the last 16 years ... a Vietnam Veteran who, along with his wife, decorated the cabin with all manner of US flags along with colorful red, white & blue décor, pillows, throws, and rugs. Then they named it “Old Glory.” It sits on a high ridge of Bluff Mountain just above The Summit in Bluff Mountain Acres. It has some spectacular views that can leave you lingering, mentally recording the photo-op moment, taking in the distant peaks of multiple mountain ranges on a clear day. When the roof needed replacing 4 years ago, it received a brand new bright red metal roof.

Steve Gilliland


Former owners and prolific patriots Steve Gilliland and his wife Pam frequented the cabin. They soaked up the remote quietness and the views, as well as feeling very much at home with their patriotic theme. They were quite proud of “Old Glory” and of all for which she stood, They allowed all their family, friends, and military pals to enjoy it as well. Sadly, in early April of 2018, Steve lost his battle with complications from his service in Vietnam and went home to the real “Glory.” He was buried with military honors among the thousands of other fallen at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. His widow, Pam, just could not come back to “Old Glory” without the memories of all the good times flooding back into her mind, and the almost seeming presence of Steve being right there with her. She realized it was time - time to let someone else enjoy “Old Glory". Not knowing what its future might become in the hands of another owner, she sadly put it up for sale in the public real estate market.

As fate would have it, a Marine Veteran and his wife looking for an investment rental cabin in the Smokies were introduced to this cabin by their real estate agent on the next day after it became available. They thought enough of the cabin and its theme to want to buy it and continue the tradition. Upon learning some of the story behind Old Glory, they became even more committed to continuing with the patriotic theme once they took ownership, even wanting it to keep the same name. Their real estate agent inquired as to whether the previous owner might consider allowing the new owners to place a tribute to Steve in the cabin. They asked if his widow would consider hand-writing a one-page biography about Steve and Old Glory and allow them to hang it on the wall beside a photo of him, hopefully beneath an encased American Military Honors Funeral Flag. The two real estate agents involved in the transaction got together and decided to help make this honorary tribute a reality. An encased honorary funeral flag was soon found and acquired. Pam wrote and framed the biography and donated a framed photo of Steven.

steven's tribute
Steven's Tribute

steven's tribute
Two agents (left and right) and Pam Gilliland (center)

steven's tribute
A view from Old Glory's porch

On August 8, 2019, the transaction was finalized, with the honorary tribute to the previous owner now in place on the wall inside the cabin near the fireplace where all who visited could see. And so, the “Changing of the Guard” for “OLD GLORY” had taken place. The new owners plan to offer mid-week discounts to Active-Duty Military, Military Veterans and First Responders who rent “Old Glory” in the days and years to come. Indeed, this “Changing of the Guard” has allowed the legend, legacy, and patriotic pride of “Old Glory” to live on and hopefully continue to inspire all those who visit through her doors. It’s not every day we get to hear about something good like this taking place in our own back yard. I hope you have enjoyed learning of one worthy tradition which simply refused to die. We are proud and patriotic Americans here in East Tennessee, and this story just solidifies that fact with this “Changing of the Guards” at “Old Glory.”

May God bless America! Interested patriots can inquire about renting Old Glory through Fireside Chalets.

Published August 9, 2019

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