By SHERIDAN CYR
The American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 honored Veteran’s Day with a moving ceremony at the Town Green on Saturday, Nov. 11, accompanied by the Knights of Columbus, Marine Corps Color Guard, local Boy Scout troops, and a number of guest speakers.
Former Commander of the Kiltonic Post 72, Steve McCarty, orchestrated the event. The Color Guard posted the colors, and Southington High School student Shelby Doerfler sang the National Anthem. Boy Scouts laid commemorative wreathes on the monuments in the green.
First Congregational Church Rev. Rob Brown offered a prayer. “May we never forget the debt we owe to those who served, especially those who gave their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy,” Brown said. “We give thanks for all the veterans of the United States who answered the call to serve their nation. Bless them with wholeness and love.”
State commander for the American Legion, Edward DeGumbia, spoke to address the mural on the side of the building. The mural was not a dedication to veterans, as it has commonly been regarded as in the town. The mural depicts the American Legion and its near-100-year history.
When the American Legion was created, there were no “veterans.”
“The mural depicts where we were when we started, where we’re going in the future, and what we’re doing for all our veterans around the world in 56 different American Legion departments,” said DeGumbia. “We’re here to help veterans and their families.”
American Legion auxiliary president Eileen Carrey said that citizens should be “emphatic and forever grateful” for the sacrifices of the nation’s veterans.
“When you go out to vote in an election, or write a letter to the editor, or send your kids out to play, thank a veteran for the freedom to do so,” she said. “We cannot begin to understand what our veterans have experienced in their lifetime.”
Carrey spoke about the ongoing service of veterans through the American Legion. They send care packages, offer scholarships to students, raise money for repairs to a veteran’s home, offer help to the homeless and much more.
State Sen. Joe Markley (R-16) suggested that bonds, which used to be strong in small communities, such as in faith and in residence, have become weaker, and the bond to our country as a community is much stronger.
“We are bound by the love of this land, its ideals and principals, history and spirit,” said Markley, “and those who serve are the ones most bound to this country by sacrifice and by blood.”
South End Elementary School presented “A Hand for our Veterans,” an American Flag crafted with cutout handprints of the students, in gratitude to service men and women.
Charles Sullivan, Korean War Veteran of the U.S. Navy, led the crowd in a rendition of “God Bless America.” The Armed Forces melody was played in closing, which includes each military branch’s song. Veterans in the crowd saluted as they heard their branch’s song play.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@Southing-tonObserver.com.
Photos by JANELLE MORELLI