By James Lomuscio
First Selectman Gordon F.Joseloff: Wars touch Westport “intensely”. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com
War touches everyone and every community when one looks at those who served and who are still serving.
That was the thrust of remarks made today by Westport First Selectman Gordon F. Joseloff as he spoke at the memorial service at Veterans Green following the parade that drew thousands to the downtown area.
Surrounded by Bill Vornkahl, president of the Westport Veterans Council and George Marks Sr. and George Marks Jr., the event’s co-Grand Marshals, Joseloff spoke of Westporters who have served and who continue to serve their country in times of war, sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice.
“Once again we are gathered to pay tribute to those who fought for our country in many wars, too many wars,” Joseloff said after he thanked Vornkahl for running the event for the past 40 years.
“This year we mark Westport’s 175th birthday,” he added. “In that time we have seen major wars in which Westporters participated ranging from the Civil War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
He said that two members of the Westport Fire Department are currently serving. Lt. Thomas Richmond is in Iraq as an Army medic, and Firefighter Nicholas Marsan is in Afghanistan in the Infantry.
Greg Jacobs, a graduate of Staples High School, is a Marine in Afghanistan, serving with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Regiment. This tour follows two previous deployments to Iraq.
Jonathan Liba, a 1987 Staples graduate, is in Afghanistan, Joseloff said, where he serves as an Army lieutenant colonel. Another Staples alumnus, Calvin Wauchope, is back from Afghanistan where he also served as a Marine sergeant.
“We know that Sam Goodgame, a 2007 Staples grad, is a third year cadet at West Point,” Joseloff continued. “He undoubtedly will see action in the future.
“So don’t just think the wars we fight today are far off and don’t touch Westport,” he said. “They do. Intensely. Please remember them. Please thank them in whatever ways you can.”
He also thanked George Marks Sr. and George Marks Jr. who “served our country in military uniforms and in the uniforms of the Westport Police Department.”
“We are deeply indebted for their service abroad—and especially at home,” said Joseloff.
The first selectman also took time to acknowledge the late Ed See who served as last year’s grand marshal. See, a longtime Westport attorney who served as Westport Town Attorney and as a member of the Representative Town Meeting, was 93. See was also grand marshal in 1946.
He also noted the passing recently of another grand marshal, Jean Plasan, who served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force as a World War II nurse.
Joseloff said that Gov. M. Jodi Rell has announced that a design has been approved for the new veterans monument at Rocky Hill across from the state Department of Veterans Affairs.
“It is symbolic of our times that this memorial will be paid for through private contributions,” he said. ” An aggressive effort to raise the roughly $1 million to $1.2 million needed to construct the memorial is under way.”
Saying that construction can begin by Veterans’ Day, he urged all Westporters “to participate in this worthy project.”
“These are tough times for our country, for our state, and yes, even for Westport,” Joseloff said. “But no matter how rough the going gets for us, we should never forget that whatever we do, it is because of those who were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice.
“So on this Memorial Day 2010, I say Happy 175th Birthday Westport,” he continued, “and together let us thank those who have paid the ultimate price and continue to put their lives on the line so we can be here to celebrate.”