Coventry observes Veterans Day
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Coventry - posted Tue., Nov. 12, 2013
On Nov. 8, a large group gathered at the Coventry Senior Center to honor U.S. military personnel through a Veterans Day observance. Manny Rodrigues, commander of Coventry VFW Post 10589, served as the master of ceremonies. Many local veterans, dressed in uniform, participated in solemn ceremonies including the presentation of the colors and a gun salute. There were ceremonies held to commemorate MIAs and POWs from U.S. wars. Town Manager John Elsesser spoke of the significance of Nov. 11 and the origins of Veterans Day.
State Rep. Tim Ackert (R-8), himself a veteran, spoke of enlisting in the Air Force at the age of 18. He talked about going to Hartford to listen to essays submitted for the 2013 Veterans Day essay contest. The first-place winner, Amie Lee, a seventh-grader from Vernon Middle School, had quoted a passage, author unknown, at the beginning of her essay, said Ackert. “Whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve – a veteran is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to the 'United States of America,' for an amount of 'up to and including my life,’” reads the passage. Lee went on to write about her great-grandfather, said Ackert, who fought in World War I and came home very ill from mustard gas inhaled into his lungs. She wrote about her grandfather, who enlisted just after the attack on Pearl Harbor and narrowly escaped being bombed by a kamikaze pilot. “We honor people like my grandfather and great-grandfather because without people who are willing to fight for what is right, the world would be a terrible place,” wrote Lee. “More leaders like Adolf Hitler would be in power. More people would suffer.”
Ackert spoke of those who had written the ultimate check, and paid with their lives. He spoke of those who’d written partial checks, such as Coventry veteran Mikah Welintukonis, who struggles to recover from severe injuries suffered in 2012 in Afghanistan. And he spoke of those who’d paid with delayed checks, succumbing to suicide after periods of suffering. “Please continue to remember our vets, because they wrote those checks,” said Ackert.