Yellow Ribbon Committee remembers active duty servicemen

By Merja H. Lehtinen - ReminderNews
Colchester - posted Mon., Oct. 7, 2013

Although two of the active duty servicemen that Colchester intended to welcome home on Saturday, Sept. 28, could not make the event (they’ll be welcomed home later in October), officials and area residents tied yellow ribbons around the old oak tree on the Colchester Veteran’s Green for those who have not yet come home from war.

There are few people without a loved one in the U.S. armed services serving at home or abroad. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are still drawing volunteers from every new graduating class, whether from high school or college.

It was a crisp, beautiful day when families were heading for traditional football games, apple-picking, luncheons, and later 57 Fest in Colchester. But a few dozen people, including local politicians from every party, gathered to remember active duty service men and women who are away and not able to take part in family traditions.

Deanna Bouchard, wearing a USMC shirt, was there with her daughter to honor her son, Matthew Sanchez, a U.S. Marine who is training at Camp Lejeune. Lena Sanchez, Matthew’s sister, was honoring her brother and disappointed she could not yet welcome home another friend, Jennifer Kelly, who Sanchez described as “an awesome person and role model” who was serving most recently in Afghanistan.
“We think it is important to support the adult children who are serving in the military,” said Bouchard.

Ribbons were hung in honor of Branden Zesut and Anthony Diccioccio, both on active duty with U.S. Army, according to Eileen McGrath, who is on the region’s Yellow Ribbon Committee.

The Yellow Ribbon effort was started by Ann McLaughlin of East Haddam, mother of veteran Arron McLaughlin, a Purple Heart recipient, who – upon returning home from war with a warm welcome from his community – thought it would be a good thing to welcome and remember all the servicemen and women. So Ann, his mother, along with friends such as McGrath and Christine Bell, became part of the Yellow Ribbon Committee that has reminded area residents of those loved ones far away in service for their nation.

Colchester Florist has donated hundreds of ribbons in order to support remembrances, and others prepare and mail packages of necessities and gifts to soldiers. The yellow ribbons are daily and continual reminders that the community cares for those serving elsewhere.

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