WETHERSFIELD - Wethersfield Mayor Donna Hennman has addressed the town on countless occasions, more often than not to handle town business, but this time she got to add a personal story of her father, a Korean War veteran.
“I called my dad last night and told him Happy Veterans Day,” Hennman said as she stood at the podium during Wethersfield’s second annual Veterans Day Ceremony outside of Town Hall Monday morning. “Have you thanked a veteran today?”
Thanking veterans was the theme in a ceremony that featured the Col. John Chester Fife and Drum marching band and the presentation of handmade thank you cards from members of Girl Scout Troop 10283 before a mix of residents, veterans and town officials.
“These men and women have left their communities from the start of our country until today, to be deployed to every conceivable country in the world,” said Veterans Day Committee Chair Lawrence Spellacy.
State Representative and former Wethersfield mayor Russell Morin thanked a veteran, his brother, who serveed in Vietnam, yesterday.
“It’s a privilege to stand among the veterans gathered here today and we appreciate your service to this country,” Morin said.
Deputy Mayor John Console also thanked veterans, but two in particular.
“My father [Dominic] was a veteran, and my dear friend who just passed away, George Wallace, and all the other veterans who have made this country great,” Console said.
Console’s father won a Purple Heart and a bronze medal during the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, Console said.
The event opened with a ceremonial bell ringing, followed by the raising of the American flag by Boy Scout Troop 50 and Girl Scout Troop 10283. American Legion Post 23 and VFW Post 7827 performed the laying of a wreath, shortly after which veterans sitting in the audience were presented with thank you cards from the Girl Scouts.
“These aren’t cards that you get at the card store,” Spellacy said. “Each one is handwritten; it’s from the heart.”
For Jim Schroll, a Vietnam War veteran and lifelong Wethersfield resident, the ceremony represented “a celebration of our time spent in the military, and all those who were in there with us.”
Resident John Lepper, an Army veteran, has spent a lot of time in the military--he served from 1956 until he was forced to retire in 1998.
“My whole life I knew I was going to be in the military,” Lepper said. “I grew up during World War II, and I knew when my time came, I would serve. The more I served, the more dedicated I became.”
Lepper said although he has left the military--he was sidelined once he reached the mandatory retirement age--the military has not left him. A big part of him, his spirit, is still where he spent 42 years of his life, even though he can no longer serve physically.
Spellacy reflected on the contributions, mainly in the form of community service and volunteer work, many veterans make after they leave the military.
“They realize that sharing their time and talent was useful in the military and bring that back with them,” he said.