By SHERIDAN ROY
Southington residents young and old participated in an array of Veterans Day commemorations across the town. Veterans Day 2018 was a unique celebration, marking 100 years after the end of World War I.
“One hundred years ago today, the war to end all wars came to a close,” said Steve McCarty, Southington American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 commander. “The concept of the American Legion was conceived not to glorify war, but to remember the comradery, the sacrifice, of those who served, and to teach the next generation to support those who serve and comfort those injured and those left behind.”
McCarty said 422 residents of Southington went off to fight in WWI. Among them were the Kiltonic brothers—one of which did not return.
The American Legion was joined by Sen. Joe Markley (R-16) and Rep. Rob Sampson (R-80).
“I think today we are entitled to reach back a century and celebrate the armistice that ended a war of unparalleled world-wide convulsion,” said Markley. “It sent legions of soldiers home to us, wounded in body and soul, and ways that I think are all too familiar to us now. Perhaps a hundred million served under arms in that combat, and nearly 10 million gave their lives, including 100,000 U.S. servicemen. Though it ended a century ago, it is a war that our veterans were honored to know.”
Sampson called on quotes from one of the founding fathers, Thomas Paine, and former President Ronald Raegan. Paine said heaven knows how to put a price upon its goods. Raegan said freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
“We didn’t pass it to our children in bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on to do the same,” said Sampson. “It is our veterans, past and present, which that duty falls to. It is because they understand that some things are worth dying for.”
The Town of Southington Veterans Committee held a Veterans Day ceremony at the Calendar House, and provided Vietnam veteran lapel pins to commemorative partners for dignified public presentations to living U.S. military veterans who served during the Vietnam War period.
Around 80 Southington area Vietnam Veterans were recognized for their service, marking the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Additionally, 10 Gold Star families were recognized. The term “Gold Star” describes a family member who has lost a loved one in military service. The Gold Star first made an appearance during WWI after being placed over a service flag’s blue star when a service member was killed in combat.
Veterans committee member John DeMello reminded Southington veterans that there are benefits available to them.
“There is no ‘other guy,’” said DeMello. He said many times, veterans do not reach out for their benefits, hoping to save them for someone else. “When you took an oath to serve your country, there are benefits that come with that. Do not be ashamed. We want to help you, and we have contacts with many amazing places and organizations.”
In addition to these two town-wide events, Southington Public Schools had a Veterans Day ceremony at almost every school in the district.
“Veterans of our military and their families give up significant portions of their lives, and at times, risk their own lives in service of their country. That service supports and protects all of us and those whom we love,” said superintendent Tim Connellan. “I believe that it is incredibly important for the youth of America to learn about the sacrifices made by our veterans and to understand the reasons for those sacrifices.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.
Photos by JANELLE MORELLI