Sunday, November 11, 2012
Honoring All Who Served—and Still Do
By James Lomuscio
With Sal LaRusso conducting, the Westport Community Band struck up a military tune today as an honor guard led by the indefatigable veteran Bill Vornkahl marched toward the front of the Town Hall auditorium in a celebration of service and patriotism this Veterans Day.
Staples student Ian Teran: hopes to serve in uniform. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Replete with soldiers, sailors, marines and Air Force veterans from World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, the Gulf War, even a few who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the ceremony before a packed audience gave tribute to all who have donned the uniform.
“Bring peace to their hearts and peace to the regions they fought in,” Scott Tilton, the director of Family and Children Ministry at St. Paul Lutheran Church said in his invocation.
Following the National Anthem led by Susan Schaeffer, associate conductor of the Westport Community Band, Selectman Charles Habertroh read a Veterans Day proclamation.
in his remarks, First Selectman Gordon Joseloff gave thanks to all who have served, including the National Guard that arrived in Westport last week to help out in the wake of Storm Sandy.
“Today, we honor not only veterans of our military service, but we also honor those who serve us today,” Joseloff said.
“Last week, while many Westporters were in the dark and many homes were flooded, or damaged by falling trees, the military came to Westport. Members of the Connecticut National Guard arrived at Westport Fire Headquarters in the early morning hours last Tuesday with their high-water rescue trucks and went out on patrol to help Westporters.
“Within a few hours, they were gone, having already worked many hours in the hard hit Greenwich area,” he added. “Fortunately, I was there to greet them—and the 60 or so out-of-town firefighters who also came to Westport in those early morning hours.
“They did not get much publicity, and I don’t think most Westporters knew they were here. The presence of this rapid deployment force in our hometown, even briefly, serves as a vivid reminder of the sacrifices made by those in uniform.”
Joseloff went on to talk about the end of conscription in 1973 and the nation’s indebtedness to the volunteer military that has sustained more than 6,000 deaths and 35,000 casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus the problems they encounter upon returning home
“It’s not enough to place wreaths and crosses on graves or to salute veterans on parade,” Joseloff said. “We need to give them jobs, housing and support.
“And we need to say thank you, not just on Veterans Day, but every time you see a man or woman in uniform or you know who has served our country; a simple thank you goes a long way,” he said to a round of applause
Staples High School senior Ian Teran gave a address in which he spoke about family members and at teachers at Staples who served and who still serve, and how he admires them.
“It is my hope to some day serve this nation in uniform,” he said.
The ceremony ended with Vornkahl placing a wreath at the front of the auditorium and Staples students Devon Lowman and Adam Mirkine playing “Taps,” while the sound of gunfire in a salute by the Westport Police Department was heard.
Later, Vornkahl and former Selectwoman Betty Lou Cummings announced the winners of the best floats in the annual Memorial Day Parade. As they have for the past 10 years, the Westport Y’s Men took the award for best overall float.