Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Memorial Day: Honoring Our Veterans and Active Military Who Exemplify Service to County and Community

As published in Appleseed column of May 13, 2016 in the Southington Citizen, 

American Legion Veteran salutes the flag during Taps  2014
Photo by Margaret Waage

Monday, May 30, 2016 is Memorial Day, a day we set aside to remember the service of our millions of veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who fought to protect our freedom and our American way of life. 

Our hearts call us to express our deepest gratitude for those who have valiantly made the supreme sacrifice in service to their country and the men and women on active duty today.  But somehow the words do not come easy.

Ask a veteran what patriotic service is all about. You will hear various answers and you will learn that words alone cannot fully express their innermost feelings of gratitude for their fallen comrades in arms and for those who are putting their lives on the line today in all parts of the world. 

Rather than in words, you will see the meaning of patriotic service to God and Country in the ingrained actions of  service of veterans.

Consider an act of such service of eleven heroic veterans that took place on the morning of Saturday April 30th at St. Thomas Cemetery in Southington.
Clearing headstones at veterans graves in St. Thomas Cemetery -L to R John Tripp, Jack Osakowicz, Jim Botsacos,Bob Abbott, Steve Pintarich, Tom Nedjoika, Mike Nedjoika, Craig Jones, Pat Huntley, Ron Plourde, Dan Valente - Photo by Dick Fortunato
Eleven veterans, members of the American Legion Kiltonic Post 72, the Sons of the Legion Squadron 72, and the Southington Knights of Columbus, Isabella Assembly 122, came together with their weed-whackers, lawn mowers, cutting tools and other garden implements to clear the headstones and grave areas of veterans buried at St. Thomas Cemetery. The project included identifying and clean-up of the veterans’ graves before they went to work for about two hours making the graves and flag holders ready for placement of flags on May 21

On Memorial Day, May 30th, beginning at 7:30 am and until completion at 8:45 am, volunteers of the American Legion and the Marine Corps League will alternate visits and tributes to our fallen veterans at each of Southington’s twelve cemeteries and parks. 

Miss Southington 2014 at Memorial Day Paraade
Photo By Margaret Waage
Veterans’ organizations will jointly hold a flag raising ceremony at 8:45 am at Southington Care Center. The annual Memorial Day Parade with many civic organizations, school bands and local groups participating will form between 9:45 and 10:15 am and step off at 10:30 Miam.

A Memorial Ceremony honoring veterans will follow the parade at the steps of the American Legion Hall off the Town Green.

Now, as a community, Southington touches the hearts and needs of its neighbors in hundreds of ways every day. But Memorial Day ironically points out something interesting … that many veterans have carried forward, as a way of life, a strong spirit of service to God, Country, family and community not only on Veterans' Days, but on the rest of the rest of the 364 days of the year. 

A veteran, whether on active duty, retired, national guard or reserve, is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of up to and including my life. That is honor, and sadly there are too many people in our country who no longer understand it.  
                                              - Author unknown

Freelance writer, Dick Fortunato is a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War. Comments welcome at dick617@gmail.com

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