By JEN CARDINES
Each year, nominees are selected to receive a place on the Wall of Honor where they are recognized for one of the following categories: Lifetime achievement, community service, major career accomplishments, and humanitarian work.
Last year, Wall of Honor officials added another category: Southington natives that left school to serve their country and lost their lives in battle. The tradition continues this year with the induction of Private first class Charles Bradley Remer Jr. and Lance Cpl. Raymond Arthur Burgess.
Both men left school to serve in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam Conflict and never came home. According to his school records, Remer left Southington High on Sept. 6, 1967 to enlist in the U.S. Marines, which was only four days after his 18th birthday. He began his tour of duty on Jan. 6, 1968.
While his classmates in Southington were preparing for graduation, Remer was overseas fighting as a machine gunner in Quang Tri, South Vietnam. He was killed in action on May 2, 1968.
Like Remer, Burgess joined the Marines to serve his country during the conflict. His father was also a military man who became Southington’s American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 commander in 1975. His mother Rose Burgess is the last surviving Gold Star mother in Southington.
Burgess began his tour of duty on Aug. 21, 1967 and was killed in action on Feb. 10, 1968, four days after his 20th birthday.
While it is required to be an SHS graduate to be eligible for the Wall of Honor, the committee acknowledges people who left school to serve in one of the nation’s wars, an action very common during military actions like the Vietnam and Korean conflicts.
“Nowadays you have to be a high school graduate in order to enlist,” said Southington American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 Commander Steve McCarty, who was instrumental in getting veteran recognition on the wall. There were 12 Southington residents who died in Vietnam, six of which McCarty nominated over the years because they were SHS students before serving.
“They deserve it,” McCarty said. “They need to be recognized.”
Once again, the Board of Education will hold a special vote to grant the veterans posthumous diplomas, which their family members are invited to accept. School officials plan to include this action on the Sept. 28 BOE agenda, so that Burgess and Remer will officially be graduates prior to the Wall of Honor induction ceremony.
“The relationship between the school system and Southington veterans has produced many valuable educational opportunities for our students,” BOE chair Brian Goralski said. “The recognition of deceased military veterans who attended Southington High School is another opportunity created through this partnership. The board is honored to present diplomas to families of former students who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”
Remer and Burgess will be formally honored during the Wall of Honor ceremony on Monday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. outside of the SHS auditorium. During the celebration, their family members will be invited to receive an identical copy of the plaque hung on the wall.
To nominate honorees for future induction classes, written and verbal recommendations can be made personally to Bob Brown.
Applications can be found online on the high school website (www.southingtonschools.org/page.cfm?p=9034), can be printed in the school office, and submitted to Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 621-0416.