Fallen Service Members Honored At VFW Memorial Day Ceremony
VFW Post 308, on Freedom Defenders Way (formerly 18 Tinkerfield Road), conducted its annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 29, at 11 am.To learn more about VFW Post 308, visit vfwpost308.com or call 203-426-9316. New members are always welcome.
Community members gathered under the VFW's pavilion during the rainy morning to pay their respects to all who have served in the United States Armed Forces and made the ultimate sacrifice defending their country.
VFW Commander Ray Wisniewski started the ceremony off with the Pledge of Allegiance as everyone stood and faced the American flag.
Newtown High School junior Teresa Forlenzo sang the national anthem at the podium. The event was one of her first public performances, and she expressed how "meaningful" it was for her to get to sing "The Star Spangled Banner" on Memorial Day at the VFW.
Veteran Roy Anderson conducted the opening prayer of the ceremony dedicated to all the service members who have lost their lives and to their comrades missing in action.
Staff Sergeant Dustin Gill led the event and spoke about the importance of honoring those who have volunteered their service and sacrifice for their country.
He read names of those who have been killed in action and gave the opportunity to the crowd to speak about friends and family they have lost from war.
"Let us also take a moment to think about their families," Staff Sgt Gill added, "the people that love and cherish them. They will always carry the burden of the true cost of freedom."
Following a respectful moment of silence, Staff Sgt Gill went on to speak about how Memorial Day should be a time dedicated to recognizing the sacrifices, accomplishments, spirit, and patriotism that fallen veteran encompass.
"Each and every one of us owes a great debt to the courageous men and women who have given their lives to protect our lives. While giving back to the extent they deserve is impossible, today - as we should every day - we attempt to offer payment in the form of remembrance."
By honoring these heroic service members, he explained, it ensures generations to come will not forget their bravery, strength, and sacrifice.
Staff Sgt Gill concluded his remarks saying, "With all our fallen heroes and their families in mind, I ask that before each of you leave here today you make yourself one promise and that is: you will never forget. God bless all of our departed heroes, their families, and God Bless America."
State and local representatives attended the Memorial Day Ceremony at VFW Post 308 to pay their respects to the veterans, including First Selectman Pat Llodra. She reflected upon the words sacrifice, pride, integrity, and commitment and urged the crowd to stop what they were doing at 3 pm that day and remember the lives lost.
State Senator Tony Hwang followed Mrs Llodra, emphasizing the importance of Memorial Day being more than parades and barbecues.
"Some of these wars aren't popular and some of these wars are distant, but these wars are very real," Senator Hwang said. "We owe a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid and that it is important for us to pay our respects to our veterans, their families, and all that they do."
State Representative Mitch Bolinsky spoke to the audience about the tried and true statement "Freedom is not free" and how people should take those words seriously.
Staff Sgt Gill concluded the ceremony with the tradition of paying respect to departed comrades with the laying of carnations and a wreath.
Lieutenant Zach Miller laid a red flower to represent the ultimate sacrifice; veteran Jim Simpson laid a white flower to represent purity and innocence; auxiliary president Cynthia Todd laid a blue flower to represent patriotism to service and country; and Staff Sgt Gill laid the wreath.
After the closing prayer, "Taps" was played, and everyone who attended the VFW Memorial Day Ceremony stood to pay their respects once more.