For Sean Owens, 18, history is a living testimony for protection and celebration of the freedoms that the US affords for growing a sense of reverence for time, place, and community.
In fact, his passion for history led him to get involved in volunteering and participating in reenactments of historic battles and events.
“Growing up, my dad served in the Marine Corps,” said Owens. “My grandfather served in the Air Force, so I always had a tie to the military, and the military has a direct tie to history. My father has collected artifacts, and gazing at that gave me an appreciation for and wonder for history. I’ve always said that history is a bedtime story when it’s true.”
For Owens, history invites awakening and reawakening.
“Not a lot of kids my age are into it anymore, but a few weeks ago I got kids from my school involved in history, with one getting started in reenacting Civil War,” he said. “Family history and local history are inspiring as well. I always wanted to do Civil War reenacting growing up as a kid. I would always play Yanks and Rebs. I would always take my little gray jacket that I had and a red Ryder bee-bee gun at five years old, and I’d run through the woods, shooting at trees.”
Owens works at historic Rose Mont located at 810 S Water Ave. in Gallatin, where Eli Geery has found Owens to be a true treasure with reverence and a genuine passion for history.
“He participates in Civil War reacting,” said Geery. “He’s always eager to help out and is always the first to volunteer. He devotes a lot of after school time to history and his flag idea is a working prototype for honor and celebration.”
For Owens, the flag project has been inspirational, humbling and an honor to bring to light.
“Using zoom I started getting bored at school, but I love flags and drawing US flags,” he said. “Then it popped into my mind to find out what is Hendersonville’s flag. So, I got on my iPad at school acting like I’m doing schoolwork. Then I came up with the blue background and the yellow sun for the flag,”
He said he had checked out the town’s banner, but he felt it needed more.
“I drew three to four designs with a red, white and blue makeshift seal, and I eventually narrowed it down to the design, sent it out and three months later the flag arrived in the mail,” he said. “On the seal’s design, scales represent lawfulness, but also balance in community and life, along with a respect for law and authority.
“People here are kind, outgoing and have a respect for the law that many places unfortunately don’t have. The guitar in the design represents music of people like Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, and many others who’ve lived in Hendersonville.
“It celebrates the impact that music has had on culture, as well as reflecting the history of Hendersonville in music that includes recording studios, the many 60s houses by the lake from Grand Old Opry. The flag honors the Old Hickory dam that powers five states. Stars tie Hendersonville to Sumner County, and its seal and pride in Tennessee.
“The blue represents perseverance, justice, vigilance. It also reflects respect for law enforcement and first responders associated with the blue, as well as showing respect for officer Spencer Bristol that passed away in December 2019, after chasing a fleeing suspect on foot across I-65 when he was struck by a vehicle.”
He added that the red and white panels in the flag represent patriotism and volunteerism.
His parents, Ashley and Corie Owens are understandably both proud and humbled by their son’s passion and achievement.
“He is an exceptional 18-year-old, and is a senior at Hendersonville Christian Academy,” said his grandmother Karen Owens. “He has a love for history that is absolutely amazing for a young man his age. Very, very, knowledgeable about World War I, World War II, and the Civil War.”
Geery noted that he is beginning to see more kids interested in history from schools in surrounding counties.
“Very few are as devoted to and inspired by Rose Mont as Sean,” said Geery. “He has encouraging parents and a grandfather big into history. So, he’s been exposed to it all his life. He reads information and books that are passed along to him.”
Sean said he recently looked into Brigham Young University and may go in the fall. At HCA, he has served as student body president, member of the Student Council, runs cross country; organized a history club at his school and did it on his own.
At Rose Mont, he sets up Saturday tours for several different historic sites.
When Sean met Eli, he recalls doing a video in uniform with live streaming for a youth program for kids during Covid to watch from home.
“It was my first time dressing up,” Sean said. “I’ve been doing this since April, and I think I have been to four events so far, along with tours and related activities like demonstrations on firing muskets. I’m drawn to historical figures in American history such as George Washington, Adams, Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson who are examples of great moral character in men and how they put that to use in leading others to do astonishing and great things.
My earliest memory of being drawn to history was when my grandparents took me to Stones River Battlefield at age six or seven. Walking through Hell’s Half Acre, I went through every single cannon along the trail. It appealed to my imagination, and it was fun hanging out with my dad with World War II games as a very young kid around four.”
Built in the 1830’s, Historic Rose Mont is located at 810 S Water Ave, Gallatin. Hours of operation are Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
After hours programs can be arranged. Check out their Facebook page for full schedule, details and ticket links.