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The towns of the Northwest Corner honored their veterans

 

Cornwall

By Leila Hawken

Dedicated to Cornwall’s settlers who fought in battle during the 18th century, the Allen Cemetery monument stood as a solitary sentinel on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11. There were no traditional Veterans Day observances, as the town continues to wage its so-far successful battle with COVID-19. Cornwall residents were invited to visit the cemetery on their own this year to view the results of a clean-up effort and to celebrate the repair of the fence.

While no official observance could be held this year, the town will spend the coming year promoting the remarkable story of the Allen family.  

Settler Joseph Allen, buried in the Allen family cemetery, served as an early selectman for the town of Cornwall.  His four sons, including Ethan and Ira, were raised in Cornwall, moving northward as adults to settle Vermont and distinguish themselves during the Revolutionary War by forming and leading the famed Green Mountain Boys.

First Selectman Gordon Ridgway pointed out that the Allen boys were “key in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga” during the Revolution.

In a recent restoration project, the town’s highway department has repaired the fence surrounding the cemetery and cleared away brush, Ridgway said. The monument was dedicated 98 years ago to honor Cornwall’s patriot soldiers.

 

North Canaan

By Cynthia Hochswender

The Veterans Day ceremony in North Canaan was quick and efficient this year, due to COVID-19 concerns. But perhaps it was for that reason that traffic could be stopped during the service, along the normally busy Route 44. 

Veterans from the area volunteered to control the flow of vehicles passing by the World War I Doughboy monument in the center of town.

Col. Kirk Harrington, a veteran and the commander of the Couch Pipa VFW post, spoke briefly about the important service and sacrifice of members of the military.

“On every day, honor the veteran,” he entreated the handful of people in attendance.

The nation has just finished a contentious election, he said, and now it’s time for everyone to unite again.

“We are, first, Americans. We will drive on.”

Major Eric Carlson, a Falls Village resident and veteran, offered the invocation, and then the traditional rifle salute was offered, led by recently retired Connecticut State Police Trooper Chris Sorrell.

Among those who attended the ceremony was Nick Gandolfo, the town’s senior veteran, dressed smartly in his Marine Corps dress uniform.

After the ceremony, he stopped for a lengthy chat with state Rep. Maria Horn.

 

Kent

By Lans Christensen

At the historic moment —the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — a gathering of Kent residents paid tribute and gave honor to their community’s veterans. 

The ceremony took place at the War Memorial, where there now stand five granite engraved stones. New additions list the veterans from conflicts in Lebanon, Panama, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the Persian Gulf Era, as well as veterans of peace time and of “other conflicts.” 

Andrew Ocif, adjutant of American Legion Post 153, and chairman of the Kent Veterans Committee, welcomed the gathering and read a brief speech. 

Kent First Selectman Jean Speck then added her welcome and read a letter from a friend who is a veteran. The Rev. John Heecki of the 1st Congregational Church gave an invocation “for those who have brought their best in times of need.” 

A squad of uniformed veterans stood at attention as bagpiper Don Hicks performed. The traditional rifle salute followed, and then the observers came up to the monument, some touching an engraved name in a loving gesture of memory.

 

Salisbury

By Patrick L. Sullivan

About 35 people gathered at Town Hall on Wednesday morning, Nov. 11, for a socially distant Veterans Day ceremony.

Chris Williams said, “We’re here today to honor our heroes, to remember their achievements, their courage and their dedication, and to say thank you for their sacrifices.”

Speaking of the service members, Williams said they came from “all walks of life, but they shared certain fundamental qualities.

“They possessed courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity — all the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than one’s self.”

The children of veteran Chris Ohmen were front and center during the ceremony. Prior to Williams’ remarks, the Pledge of Allegiance was read by Eden and Ivy Ohmen. Willow Ohmen was on hand, and Skyler Ohmen was in the color guard, wearing his father’s uniform trousers from basic training (suitably altered).

Everyone attending wore a mask and maintained their distance from each other, the pandemic precautions adding to the solemnity of the occasion.

 

Sharon

By Hunter O. Lyle

For this year’s Veterans Day ceremony, members of the community and members of the Herbert G. Klebes American Legion Post 126 came together to celebrate and honor the men and women who have served in the military. Post 126 was named after a World War I veteran from Sharon. 

The veterans began the ceremony at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at the Veterans Memorial across from the Clock Tower. A handful of people turned out, with some veterans dressed in uniform.

Bob Loucks, the vice commander for Post 126 and organizer of this year’s ceremony, started the ceremony with a short speech.

“We assemble here today to honor and remember United States veterans, both past and present, for their sacrifice to this great country. Their blood has been spilled and some lives have been lost.”

After a moment of silence and prayer, followed by the collective singing of “God Bless America,” four veterans hoisted rifles and gave the traditional three volleys.

 The ceremony ended with members of the Legion retiring several American flags by burning them in front of the memorial. The flags ranged from small prop flags to a 48-star flag that dated back to before the 1960s.  

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