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Thank you, veterans

By ELIZABETH MACAULEY

Chronicle Staff Writer

WILLIMANTIC — Communities across America voiced a unanimous thank you on Veterans Day to all who have served and fought for freedom.

The Town of Windham expressed appreciation during its annual Veterans Day ceremony at Memorial Park in Willimantic Saturday morning.

“This ceremony is something we have always done as a community,” said South Windham resident Millie Kervin. “It shows respect for veterans, which is especially important because it hasn’t been a good year for them.

“Veterans give us our freedom that many of us take for granted,” Kervin said. “They need more support today, than ever.”

Officials from the community, including Windham Mayor Ernest Eldridge, State Rep. Susan Johnson, D-Willimantic, and Windham School Superintendent Patricia Garcia, all came to express their gratitude for the sacrifice veterans have made for the country’s well-being.

“Today, America pauses to honor the men and women in uniform,” Garcia said. “As we salute fallen heroes, it’s also important to recognize those serving.

“Everyone here knows of someone who has served,” Garcia said. “It’s important to show appreciation to veterans every day of the year.”

For Johnson, Veterans Day is a special time for remembering family members who have served, including her father, who served in World War II, and her grandfather, who served in World War I.

“I remember my family who served, but I also think of other families whose members served and didn’t come home or had injuries,” Johnson said.

For Vietnam veteran William P. Howlett, who served from 1968-69, the ceremony was meaningful because it honored his comrades who didn’t make it back home as well as those who did.

“Coming home from Vietnam and being disgraced by the people still hurts,” Howlett said. “It’s hard to forgive.”

“Veterans Day is important to honor those that have made sacrifices,” said Willimantic resident Mary Gallucci. “There needs to be more done when they come home with health care and jobs.”

Army Lt. Col. Paul Veilleaux spoke at the event and emphasized the importance of supporting veterans with disabilities.

“Night terrors are real,” Veilleaux said. “Tremors are real.

“Veterans have done so much, it’s important to find some way, any way, to support them,” Veilleaux said. “I challenge you to find a way to make a difference in the life of a veteran.”

 

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