Release of Bald Eaglet “Highlander” in Honor and in Memory of Garrett Barnett
June 25, 2017
On June 25, 2017, the American Eagle Foundation released an eaglet in honor of a very special young man named Garrett Reece Barnett. He was born on September 11, 1992 in Gatlinburg, TN, and passed away on July 23, 2016, at the age of 23.
Friends and family gathered at the Hack Tower on Douglas Lake in East Tennessee to remember Garrett and to celebrate his life.
Some of the comments made at this special event follow:
“Garrett was a much-loved son, brother, and friend. He is survived by countless relatives and close friends, many of which are here today, but we want to specifically recognize his mom and dad, Martha and Jim, and sisters, Cassidy and Jamie.
Thank you to everyone for being here today. It is an honor for the AEF to release this eaglet in honor of Garrett. Many of the eagle releases we do are for people we don’t know very well, but this one is a little different. In fact, Garrett has attended many of these releases. He’s played the bagpipes at several of them, and has simply been a helping hand at others. He even got to pull the rope to the hacking cage at one of our releases! Garrett and my little sister, and Al’s daughter, Gretchen were in the same grade growing up, and for a time in our teens, Cassidy and I were pretty much inseparable. Garrett and the entire Barnett family has always been a joy to know.
So let’s talk a little about Garrett!
Garrett’s interests, hobbies, and accolades were, to say the least, vastly impressive.
Garret was a musician, a scholar, an athlete, and an avid outdoorsman. Never saying no and giving his all in time and effort, Garrett lived an adventurous, accomplished, and purposeful life.
After graduating from Gatlinburg-Pittman High School in 2011, ranking at the top of his class, he then attended the University of Tennessee and graduated Summa Cum Laude.
Whether it was playing instruments, woodturning, navigating a raging river, backpacking, climbing, whitewater kayaking, fly fishing, caving, or acquiring countless outdoor certifications, such as Wilderness First Responder, Swift Water Rescue, First Aid and CPR, and Firefighting…Garrett displayed excellence, drive, and passion in everything he did. Garrett approached life’s opportunities as a personal challenge to better himself and accomplish things most people will never experience.
So many people go around saying that you should always live each day like it’s your last, but don’t actually do that themselves.
But Garrett did.
He didn’t wait for life to happen, he chased it.
His sweet, loving, caring, and adventurous spirit lives on and continues to be a standing example of what it means to truly live life to the fullest.
From everyone at the AEF, we are so sorry for your loss. Nothing can ever fully dull the pain that comes from losing a loved one, but as you watch this eagle soar for its very first time today, in Garrett’s memory, we hope that it brings even the tiniest amount of healing and joy to your hearts, knowing that Garrett is soaring right up there with it.”
About This Eaglet:
This eaglet was found in Roane county, where he had been blown out of a nest at about 8 weeks of age. Rescuers were not able to find the nest to put him back. No apparent injuries were found, and after a brief stent in rehab to make sure there were no further problems, or an undetected illness, he was taken to the hack tower. At the hack tower, overlooking Douglas Lake and a wooded landscape, an eaglet can then associate that area as his “home nest.”