By ELIZABETH MACAULEY
Chronicle Staff Writer
WILLIMANTIC â€” 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.
â€śThis ceremony is something we have always done as a community,â€ť said South Windham resident Millie Kervin. â€śIt shows respect for veterans, which is especially important because it hasnâ€™t been a good year for them.
â€śVeterans give us our freedom that many of us take for granted,â€ť Kervin said. â€śThey need more support today, than ever.â€ť
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 countryâ€™s well-being.
â€śToday, America pauses to honor the men and women in uniform,â€ť Garcia said. â€śAs we salute fallen heroes, itâ€™s also important to recognize those serving.
â€śEveryone here knows of someone who has served,â€ť Garcia said. â€śItâ€™s important to show appreciation to veterans every day of the year.â€ť
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.
â€śI remember my family who served, but I also think of other families whose members served and didnâ€™t come home or had injuries,â€ť Johnson said.
For Vietnam veteran William P. Howlett, who served from 1968-69, the ceremony was meaningful because it honored his comrades who didnâ€™t make it back home as well as those who did.
â€śComing home from Vietnam and being disgraced by the people still hurts,â€ť Howlett said. â€śItâ€™s hard to forgive.â€ť
â€śVeterans Day is important to honor those that have made sacrifices,â€ť said Willimantic resident Mary Gallucci. â€śThere needs to be more done when they come home with health care and jobs.â€ť
Army Lt. Col. Paul Veilleaux spoke at the event and emphasized the importance of supporting veterans with disabilities.
â€śNight terrors are real,â€ť Veilleaux said. â€śTremors are real.
â€śVeterans have done so much, itâ€™s important to find some way, any way, to support them,â€ť Veilleaux said. â€śI challenge you to find a way to make a difference in the life of a veteran.â€ť