NEW BRITAIN - The city will celebrate Veterans Day this year with a special Armistice Day ceremony and celebration Sunday.
On Nov. 11, 1918, the world celebrated Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I. A century later, the New Britain Veterans Council plans its own celebration of the 100th anniversary of the end of “the war to end all wars.”
The weekend-long event is called Armistice@100, and honors the 3,500 New Britain residents who fought in World War I, 123 of whom did not return. The World War I monument at Walnut Hill Park bears their names.
“New Britain is proud to honor our veterans who have served and continue to serve our country in the armed services. These men and women have showed strength and courage during times of need and have kept us safe. We are a grateful country and city for their service. We also look forward to commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I - a pivotal time in the history of New Britain for both our residents and industry,” Mayor Erin Stewart said.
At 10:30 a.m. Sunday, at the World War I monument, veterans’ organizations will recognize those from New Britain who fought and died in the war. Recognition of each veteran listed on the monument will be made by members units of the veterans council: Gen. Haller Post 111, VFW, DAV, Marine Corps League, Franco-American Veterans, TGM Northwestern Veterans and the American Legion.
This will be followed by taps, a rifle salute, a flyover by the Connecticut National Guard and comments from dignitaries, including city native Brig. Gen. Ralph Hedenberg, of Burlington, who commands the Joint Task Force of the Connecticut Army National Guard.
“I am forever grateful to all Veterans for their service to our country. It is important for us to remember, honor, and thank them,” said Sandy Keefe, the city’s Veterans Affairs Clerk. “This Veterans Day, New Britain will pay special tribute to the World War I veterans from New Britain who fought to preserve our country’s freedom and especially to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives during World War I. I am also thankful to those who help us remember through our ceremony.”
Those attending the ceremony are asked to bring items such as toiletries, socks and beef jerky to the ceremony. These donated items will become part of “Hero Boxes” that will be put together at the New Britain VFW on Thanksgiving night in conjunction with Berlin VFW Post 10732.
The packages will be sent to American troops in the Middle East as a way to thank them for their service and let them know we are they are being thought of back home.
There will also be special recognition of the 100th anniversary of Polish independence during Sunday’s ceremony. Of the 123 New Britain residents who died during World War I, 39 were of Polish descent, the largest number of any nationality.
The school district has been teaching a World War I curriculum the past few months so students can learn about New Britain’s involvement in the war.
A luncheon immediately following Sunday’s monument service will be hosted by New Britain Elks Lodge 957 and catered by the Culinary Club of the New Britain Boys and Girls Club. During the luncheon, the council, school district, New Britain Public Library and Elks will award six scholarships to middle school and high school students for essays related to what they’ve learned about World War I.
Superintendent Nancy Sarra and other school administrators will make presentations during the lunch, and the essays, along with memorabilia from the era, will be on display.
Wreaths also will be placed at the city’s 16 other war monuments.
“New Britain remembers and honors her veterans. Armistice Day, which is now Veterans Day, started one hundred years ago - the end of the Great War, the war to end all wars,” said Dennis Taricani, commander of New Britain’s Hardware City Chapter 8 of the Disabled American Veterans. “New Britain will have a very special ceremony this Veterans Day at the World War I monument in Walnut Hill Park.”
For more information on this weekend’s events, cisit www.armistice100.org .
The parking lot at the top of the hill by the monument will be reserved for dignitaries, speakers, and handicapped parking.
Drop-offs will be allowed in the turnaround circle in front of the steps to the monument area. Cars will then be directed to the lower parking lots.
Two shuttle buses will be available starting at 9:30 a.m. from the parking lots to the ceremony area and back to the lots after the ceremony.