November 11, 2009

Veterans Day in Bristol

As old soldiers read the names of those who left Bristol for war during the past century and never returned, the audience at the annual Veterans Day ceremony remained hushed save for a few suppressed coughs and the whispers of antsy children.

The names, said clearly and carefully, one by one, echoed through the historic, slightly tattered auditorium at Memorial Boulevard Middle School.

“The greatest honor you can give our veterans is to remember them,” said Lori DeFillippi, a former Marine who hosted the annual gathering.

With every passing year, there are fewer who can remember the young men who headed off to battle and vanished forever in the jungles of Vietnam, the snowy mountains of Korea, the blasted beaches of Pacific atolls, the hedgerows of Normandy and scores of other bloody locales whose names cascade through time.

Since the doughboys answered their country’s call in 1917, 232 men from Bristol have perished while serving in the military, the last of them more than 35 years ago.

They never got the chance to swap war stories at the American Legion, to see children and grandchildren grow, to watch the passing of time as daffodils danced in the spring and the leaves fell in the fall.

But they made it possible for their community -- and their nation -- to carry on in freedom and prosperity, as speakers emphasized.

In Bristol, which has the largest veteran population in the state, officials take pride in treating military men and women, past and present, with honor.

“I’ve never seen veterans treated so well and with such respect as in Bristol,” said Spc. Kristen Masiero-Carter, who trains troops for the U.S. Army Reserve’s 405th Combat Support Hospital.

Masiero-Carter, the keynote speaker, said that after joining the Army in 2006, she worked in a military hospital helping burn victims who had returned from the Middle East.

Seeing what they go through, she said, taught her that no matter how bad a day she has, it could be worse.

The ceremony featured students from Chippens Hill Middle School singing the National Anthem and “God Bless America.”

A troupe from Reach for the Stars Academy of Dance performed to a sad song about a veteran found by Santa Claus sleeping on the floor of a small apartment. It got a standing ovation from the 200 people attending.

Veterans got recognition, too, as they stood with others from their branch of the service. About 80 got to their feet as former members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force.

“It made me cry a little,” said Nancy Santino, a-15-year-old from Waterbury who came with her grandparents. “You don’t think most of the time about all the troubles people have had to give us what we have today.”

Veterans should get what they deserve

Mayor Art Ward told a crowd gathered for the city’s annual Veterans Day ceremony Wednesday that it was “very sobering” for him to read on the front page that morning how the U.S. Veterans Administration was failing some veterans.

Other news stories that talked about homeless veterans and the struggle to come to grips with the consequences of the Agent Orange sprayed in Vietnam also stung, the mayor said.

“That is just wrong,” said Ward, who served in the U.S. Marines in Vietnam and was wounded there.

The host of the city’s Veterans Day ceremony, Lori DeFillippi, who also served in the Marines, said, “Sometimes a veteran’s biggest battle is when he comes home and has to fight his own government.”

Ward said that for veterans “service is never over. It is always with us.”

But when the troops return to their communities, he said, the nation should follow through on its promises to the men and women it sent into harm’s way.

“It’s the country’s responsibility to honor its commitments to its veterans,” Ward said.

They shouldn’t have to keep fighting daily “to get the services and the benefits that they have truly, truly earned,” the mayor said.

All too often, Ward said, veterans return home only to find they still have to “stand up and fight” to get their due from the country they served.

Ward said people should read the stories in the papers and let them sink in.

Then, he said, they need to call their congressmen, pigeonhole their state lawmakers and tell those in power to make sure veterans are not ignored.

“There’s this voice out there that has to be heard -- and we’re bringing that forward,” the mayor said.

*******
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

TO BAD MOST REAL VETS COULDNT ATTEND WE HAD TO WORK.

Tim Gamache said...

And retired Veterans aren't "real?"NITWIT!

Anonymous said...

Tim, Were was the donuts.

Doug said...

I agree Veterans should not have to fight for what they honorably earned. And we want to trust this same government with our healthcare? If our veterans cannot receive what they earned from our Government, what makes people think they will provide ordinary citizens with appropriate health care?

Wake up people!

Army Vet said...

Real Veterans? Who is this loser anyway?

Anonymous said...

5:13 is a frustrated 5th grade drop out who's trying to get his 15 minutes of fame on the blog. Unfortunately, the ONLY thing he's famous for is being a jerk.

Anonymous said...

A speaker at the Forestville Event said that we should make sure that our Veterans are taken care BEFORE we even consider providing benefits to ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

I agree

Anonymous said...

We already pay for immigrants when they go to the emergency rooms!

Anonymous said...

You all must like the way the insurance companies running the health care! What a job they havealready been doing on us taxpayers. Not the moaners because they sell insurance........We trust you over the government? I think not !

Anonymous said...

12:12

Doesn't make it right!

Anonymous said...

MOST DR0P OUTS ARE VET BUT THEY SERVED OUR COUNTRY . IT DIDNT TAKE EDUCATION IT TOOK GUTS . THANK YOU 513.

Anonymous said...

5:38 PM, you are 5:13 PM. Why would you thank yourself? Neither post makes sense anyway...ADULT ED, try it!

stone dust for brains said...

5:38 - and just who or what supplied this most ignorant piece of senseless information to you? I call on you to put up or shut up you inconsiderate idiot.
I can't even imagine the pain that your mother must have gone through trying to raise a shallow rock, such as you.

Anonymous said...

TIM WASNT TALKING ABOUT RETIRED VETS .IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS MOST VETS ARE WAT TO YOUNG TO RETIRE. NO OFFENCE TO YOU .WE THANK YOU GUYS TOO.

Anonymous said...

Lori,

Thanks for another great job!

An appreciative Bristolite

Anonymous said...

10:11 am:

Why did you need to bash illegal immigrants in your complaint against the VA? It's not their fault the VA is f**ed up. A lot of the men fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are "illegal immigrants"; do you want to exclude them from VA hospitals when they come back from down range?

Anonymous said...

Why was there no school? Shouldn't our kids be in school learning about veterans rather than just going to the mall or whatever?

Anonymous said...

6:22 - they can't serve if they are illegal in this country - get your facts right, you make yourself look stupid.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't aware that the military accepted ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

Do they?

Anonymous said...

Didn't see many elected officials at the ceremonies.

Maybe we should have election day AFTER Veterans day.

Anonymous said...

NO THEY DO NOT!!!

Anonymous said...

if 1:14 is correct then 6:22 is way off base!!

And the speaker was 100% correct.