SOUTHINGTON - A large and enthusiastic crowd turned out Monday morning for the Memorial Day Parade, which stepped off from Derynoski Elementary School and ended up at the Town Green.
The American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 and the Marine Corps League conducted memorial services at cemeteries around town, as well as a joint flag raising ceremony at the Southington Care Center early that morning. Then they met at the green in front of the Post 72 hall for a ceremony to mark the day.
The ceremony began as a color guard placed wreaths at the military memorials on the green. Shelby Doerfler, a senior from Southington High School, sang the national anthem. Chaplain John DeSantis gave a benediction. Then the Knights of Columbus placed a white cross at the American Legion flagpole.
Steve McCarty, past commander of Post 72, announced that Southington High School will be holding a suit drive for veterans at the school on June 7 and 8.
McCarty gave out several awards. Maryanne Borry got a certificate of appreciation for her efforts in organizing a collection of items for the residents of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs home in Rocky Hill.
He recognized the newest Boy Scout members of the Post 72 Color Guard: Aaron Mysatyukow, Aiden Halpin and Joel Ortiz, and presented Justin Simard from the Southington Police Department with the American Legion Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award.
Eileen Carey, president of the Post Auxiliary, said the auxiliary has existed for 98 years to support veterans and their families. She noted that the organization received a big donation of snacks from T.A. Travel Center this year to send to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan recently. As a thank you the troops there sent an American flag which had flown at the base and is now flying at the Post hall, she said.
“When you see a veteran or active military personnel, thank them for their service,” she said. “When you see a flag salute that flag. Stand for the national anthem and sing it with pride.”
State Rep. Joe Markley, R-Southington, noted that this year marks a century since the end of World War I.
“If, as General [William Tecumseh] Sherman said, war is hell, then I think World War I was the bottom level of hell, between the poison gas and the trenches and the wire and the machine guns. Perhaps 60,000 American servicemen gave their lives in the first world war, in a little over a year, and as many more died of misadventure and sickness. That generation has passed away, my grandfather’s generation, but I knew many of those men as a young boy,” Markley said.
In their honor, he read the poem “The Dead,” by Rupert Brooke, the English poet who served in World War I and died in 1915.
Chris Palmieri, Town Council chairman, praised the work of the town’s Veterans Committee, whose volunteer members now have a permanent home at Town Hall for their work assisting local veterans. He noted that there is a Wall of Honor in the Town Hall main entrance honoring town residents currently serving in the military.
Palmieri said he recently attended the annual Military Luncheon at the Municipal Center to recognize graduating Southington High School seniors who will be entering the military. “It is incredibly humbling to be surrounded by them and their families knowing the sacrifices they have chosen to undertake on our behalf,” he said.
He recalled that in 2000 President Bill Clinton established a National Moment of Remembrance, “to give everyone a chance to reflect on the true purpose and sacrifices that should be honored on Memorial Day.” He called on everyone to observe that moment at 3 p.m.
McCarty called attention to the monuments on the green to those “who made the ultimate sacrifice,” not only serving in the military but also as police, firefighters, and other first responders.
“We acknowledge that each that has fallen represent not just themselves but also the grief and sacrifices of families and of a town,” he said. “Be forever vigilant of the grief of the 32 families of Southington from World War II, of the one family from Southington of Korea, of the nine families of Southington of Vietnam, of the four firefighters and the one police officer.”
The ceremony concluded with three volleys fired by the color guard, the performance of Taps by Jim Lord and Hank Lucas, the playing of the Armed Forces Medley, McCarty reading the names of the Post 72 members who died in the past year, and a closing prayer by DeSantis.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.