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Veterans Mural Gets New Names And Admirers

Each letter was precise. Each name inscribed at the Newtown Municipal Center honored a veteran serviceman or woman from Newtown who has served in the military in the past several decades. Another tribute to veterans of prior years hangs in the Edmond Town Hall.

With oil paint slowly drying Tuesday, Southbury artist David Merrill dabbed gold shadowing along the dark capital letters, adding more names to his municipal center mural. After spending more than a year completing the panels of the three-piece mural in his home, the completed work was installed and unveiled late last year. Since then he and project coordinator Laurie McCollum have received more names of residents to include on the artwork.

Mr Merrill held his paintbrush in a firm hand and slowly trailed paint along the mural’s surface. He has roughly 60 new names to add, and anticipates spending Monday and Tuesday of coming weeks at his work.

“The names keep coming,” he said. He also showed a small plaque that he painted to hang beside the mural, explaining that it is a continuation of those recognized by the earlier memorial at the Edmond Town Hall.

His goal Tuesday was to finish two more rows. Mr Merrill had also been in the Army, and included his own name on the mural. He served as an Army engineer stationed in Fort Knox, Ky., from 1954 to 57, toward the end of the Korean Conflict, he said.

Dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono, Motoko Ishihara, visiting from Japan and working with Parks and Recreation day campers this week, stopped to shake Mr Merrill’s hand.

She grew up in Japan post-World War II and as she watched Mr Merrill work, she said, “From the war we lost many, but got democracy and freedom.” She also explained that she was able to learn to speak English. She expressed appreciation for her “great opportunity to meet [Mr Merrill].”

Ms Ishihara had visited Newtown in December on the 12/14 anniversary, which is when Assistant Director of Recreation RoseAnn Reggiano had asked her to return this summer for day camps. She welcomed the opportunity, noting, “I wanted to give healing and hope.” She brought origami cranes to Newtown and to the Parks and Recreation Department summer camps. The recreation staff also enjoyed a traditional tea ceremony at the Town Hall South office Tuesday morning.

“I want to tell people in this town — so many people in Japan care about families in town,” she said.

Describing the origami craft, Ms Ishihara said, “It’s just paper, but it’s a traditional way to convey a personal message.” She often makes cranes as a way to “keep memory in [my] heart of people who pass, but leave their memory in our hearts,” she said. For the many who do not know how to express their feelings, they can make the origami cranes, she said. This summer she was “glad to witness people going forward.”

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