We considered ourselves lucky to have the Southington Veteran’s Committee as our neighbors last week in front of the town hall at the Apple Harvest Festival. We were proud to see our local committee stepping up to help veterans and their families. We were even able to witness them extending help to out-of-town veterans’ families that were visiting the festival. It was a highlight of the first weekend.
It was also at the festival that committee member John DeMello reminded us that Southington has only one surviving Gold Star Mother, Rose Burgess. DeMello’s timing could not have been any better considering that Sunday, Sept. 30 was Gold Star Mother’s Day.
In the United States, this day is observed on the last Sunday of September. It is a day for people to recognize and honor those who have lost a son or daughter while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Burgess lost her son, Lance Cpl. Raymond Arthur Burgess in Vietnam.
Locals are familiar with Lance Cpl. Burgess’ story. After all, he was honored last fall when he and Pfc. Charles Remer were inducted into the Southington High School Wall of Honor. The classmates left school early to enlist in the military, and both were killed in action during the Vietnam War.
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.
Burgess began his tour of duty on Aug. 21, 1967 and was killed in action on Feb. 10, 1968, just four days after his 20th birthday.
DeMello later posted a recognition on social media. “On behalf of the Town of Southington veterans committee, God Bless Rose Burgess, Southington’s only surviving Gold Star Mother’s,” he wrote. “We also remember all the Gold Star Families.”
Like the veterans committee, we would like to recognize Burgess for her family’s sacrifice and to publicly express our love, sorrow, and reverence for Gold Star Mothers and their families everywhere.
This is another example of how the town’s veterans committee has really raised their profile since moving into their new office in town hall earlier this year. Of course, they’ve been active for years, providing a connection to the Veterans Association, assisting veterans in job searches, educating them on what tax reliefs are available to them, obtaining war medals for families of veterans, connecting veterans to transportation to VA Hospitals, or just lending an ear to a fellow veteran who wishes to talk.
On Saturday, Oct. 6 and Sunday, Oct. 7, the committee is partnering with John Paradis of the VA to bring the Veterans Administration Mobile Vet Unit to the festival. The unit will be parked on Center Street and will provide information and assist military veterans with filing for benefits.
Finally, we are pleased to announce that DeMello and the rest of his committee have decided to contribute a monthly column to keep our readers up to date on veteran issues and local events. We hope you are as excited as we are. (Check them out at http://www.southington.org/content/17214/25378/default.aspx).
To comment on this story or to contact Southington Observer editor John Goralski, email him at JGoralski@SouthingtonObserver.com.