Veterans remembered at Davis Park

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Danielson - posted Mon., Nov. 11, 2013
(L to r) Marine Corps League Color Guard members William Lee, George Viens, Louis Verrette and Stephen Sears. Photos by D. Coffey.
(L to r) Marine Corps League Color Guard members William Lee, George Viens, Louis Verrette and Stephen Sears. Photos by D. Coffey.

Veterans representing the Amvet Posts 45 in Killingly and 47 in Brooklyn, the American Legion Post 21 in Danielson, the Paul C. Houghton Detachment 681 Marine Corps League in Dayville, and VFW Posts 2650 in Danielson and 4908 in East Killingly marked Veterans Day with a ceremony in Davis Park on Nov. 10.

Past Amvet Post 47 Commander and Past National District One Commander Albert Duff spoke to the small crowd that had gathered. “Veterans Day is meant to honor all Americans who served throughout the years,” he said. “Without them, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we have. But we must fulfill our promise to veterans. They need jobs. They need a welcome home. They need physical and emotional healing.”

He called for an improvement in the availability of services and housing for veterans. The Boston bombing in April underscored the continuing need for a strong military, he said. And he urged the crowd to recognize and appreciate all veterans who served, whether in war or in peace. “They stood watch to defend our freedom and ideals,” he said. “It’s up to us to show we appreciate them.”

Amvets First District Provost Dick Bonneau reminded people to put flowers on veterans’ graves and to remember them in their prayers.
VFW Post 4908 Chaplain Bernie Ducat urged everyone to remember all veterans on the holiday. “There are many vets who won’t be home for the holidays,” he said. “Let us pray for them. May God protect them and return them safely.”

U.S. Army Ranger Norman Provost laid a wreath at the WW II Monument. Killingly High School trumpeter Kaitlyn Collins played "Taps." The KHS Marching Band performed the national anthem and “America, the Beautiful.”

Freedom Loving American Guardians Chair Richard Hall said the ceremony was an important way to recognize the sacrifices made by so many servicemen and women. “People forget,” he said. “They need to be reminded.” But he acknowledged that for many veterans, it was difficult to talk about their service years. “It’s hard,” he said, “but the most important job of all for veterans is to talk with their families. If a family doesn’t know about your service, they have no reason to thank you.” 

Bonneau admitted that he didn’t talk about his war experiences for 60 years. When the Vietnam Memorial Wall came to Putnam, it set something off in him. He started building a Memorial Wall with the names of 613 Connecticut servicemen and women killed in Vietnam. “That wall was part of my healing,” he said. He drove it in parades, to car shows, and to a variety of events. It acted like a beacon to other veterans who struck up conversations with him. “It was like having a counseling session,” he said.

Bonneau has diabetes, heart problems and difficulty breathing, something he attributes to the chemicals he was exposed to in Vietnam. He’d like to see younger members join the veteran organizations. “We know they have families. We know some may have physical and psychological problems. But we’re hoping some can step up and help support those who need their help,” he said.

Years ago the names of all the area veterans were read aloud at the ceremony. “Two young men from Danielson and East Killingly were lost in Vietnam,” Bonneau said. “They need to be recognized. That’s what today’s for: to remember those who never made it home.”

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