By SHERIDAN CYR
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, locals will be able to salute an American flag atop a newly placed, permanent flag pole during the annual 9/11 ceremony. The ceremony will take place at the town’s 9/11 memorial, just off the rail trail in downtown Plantsville.
The memorial already featured two twin granite tablets and benches, bordered by neatly-trimmed hedges and flowers, but locals felt that the memorial was missing a major component: a flag.
Retired firefighter captains David Mikosz (40 years of service) and Peter Kurtz (30 years of service) wanted to change that.
“It was something we felt we needed to do,” said Mikosz. When the retired captain bumped into Planning and Zoning Commission chair Mike Del Santo while playing golf one day this summer, he took the opportunity to share his vision.
“I asked Mike if it would be too much trouble to get a flag pole at the site of the memorial,” Mikosz said. “I asked, ‘is this something you think we could do?’ and he took it from there.”
Del Santo approached the Parks Commission with the request to support the effort to add a flag pole to the site, not only for the ceremony, but for future use and enjoyment of the site.
“We all know the grief and sorrow that comes with the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001,” DelSanto said, “so I believe this request is meaningful and significant.”
The cost of the flag pole and the flag was alleviated by donations from within the community. The American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 donated an American flag, and KBE Building Corporation, the company that worked on the renovations at the Calendar House senior center, stepped in and donated the funds to purchase the flag pole through their “50 ways to make a difference” program.
KBE’s program was established in 2009 to celebrate 50 years of business and has provided corporate donations to charitable causes and agencies benefiting children, seniors and military veterans.
Dave Lapreay said that the parks commission meeting that the public works maintenance crew already takes care of lowering the flags as necessary, so the new flag pole could be added to their list.
“The highway/parks department’s involvement was just the installation of the flagpole, but we were all honored to play even a small part in such a deserving project,” said town engineer Annette Turnquist. “I am so happy everything came together before Sept. 11.”
The memorial is located at the corner of Summer Street and West Main Street. The memorial’s materials and labor were donated by Mathieu Memorials in 2003 to first responders and citizens who lost their lives. Each year, Gloria Pannon from Shades of Green in Meriden donates two wreathes that Mikosz and Kurtz carry forward and place on the granite monuments.
The annual ceremony will be held precisely at 8:46 a.m. on Tuesday to honor the lives lost during the September 11 attacks. The event includes members of the Southington Fire Department, the Southington Police Department, the Knights of Columbus, the American Legion Kiltonic Post 72, local veteran support groups, town and state officials and other community leaders.
Attendees are advised to arrive by 8:30 a.m. to insure parking.
To comment on the story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.