By: Linda Zukauskas, Voices
November 18, 2009
Master of Ceremonies Tony Unger, commander of the Charles L. Ruman Post 160 in Easton, introduced Bishop Robert F. McKenna, O. P., from Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Chapel.
Bishop McKenna blessed the veterans, “[They] were ready to sacrifice their lives for us and are worthy of our admiration and gratitude.”
Mr. Unger introduced elected officials who spoke to the theme of the ceremonies.
State Rep. DebraLee Hovey, R-112, said Americans don’t question their freedom, thanks to the veterans.
She noted their sacrifices and the sacrifices made by their families here at home. “We owe them a debt of gratitude that is immeasurable.”
Town Council Chair Enid Lipeles explained the origin of the holiday. The cease-fire that ended World War I was signed at 11 a.m. November 11, 1918.
It was considered “the war to end all wars” and November 11, 1919 was set aside as Armistice Day. President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined the name Veterans Day in 1954.
Ms. Lipeles said she was never prouder of her son, a graduate of West Point, than when she saw him in uniform.
She echoed Ms. Hovey’s sentiment, noting that Americans can travel from across the country without a passport and enjoy many freedoms.
First Selectman-elect Steve Vavrek thanked the veterans, especially noting the women who served and were in attendance. He said his own father served at Pearl Harbor.
Victor Yanosy, commander of the Sippin-Winspur Post 176 in Monroe, introduced a detachment from the Canadian Air Force.
Two of the men placed a spray of red and white roses on the World War I memorial on the Stepney Green. The ribbon read “Lest We Forget”
Maj. Timothy Al-Molky from the Canadian detachment said the holiday is called Remembrance Day in Canada and to remember one veteran is to remember them all many times over.
In honor of Trooper Jack Bouthillier, age 21, the youngest Canadian soldier lost in Afghanistan, Major Al-Molky read “In Flanders Fields” by Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D. (1872-1918), Canadian Army.
Following the emotional reading, the youth chorale from Our Lady of the Holy Rosary School performed a selection of patriotic music.
Mr. Unger read the names of hometown heroes with John Zsoldos, who recently returned from active duty, standing next to him.
Then, Mr. Unger introduced a friend and veteran, George Massar.
Mr. Massar said he was the happiest man on earth sitting on a gun turret aboard the USS Missouri, watching the Japanese surrender to the U.S.
He called himself an optimistic young sailor when he thought then, “This has to be the war to end all wars.”
Pastor Kevin Merritt of the Stepney Baptist Church offered a prayer for the survivors of the Fort Hood incident. He asked that they be granted comfort and peace as well as to those who “rest in honored glory, those who suffer from the wounds of war and those who are among us today” because they have all preserved freedom.
After the ceremonies, the veterans were treated to a luncheon at the Easton Community Center, sponsored by local Girl Scouts.
Maj. Al-Molky explained the Canadian detachment is monitoring a contract for helicopters at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. He expressed gratitude for the invitation from Easton and Monroe, emphasizing the importance of remembrance on this day.