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A Day of Gratitude and Honor for Senior Veterans in East Haddam

Submitted by Meghan Peterson.

On Friday, June 2, 2017, young and old – and those in-between – gathered together for an outdoor ceremony honoring local senior veterans. The occasion, held at Chestelm Health and Rehabilitation Center in East Haddam, honored veterans – specifically, those from Chestelm as well as included the ritual called the “Generational Passing of the Flag.” This ritual is solemn, patriotic in nature – designed to connect generations of patriots from era to era. The flag of the United States of America is passed from one generation of warrior soldiers to the next: from World War 2 to Korea; from Vietnam to Persian Gulf; from Operation Enduring Freedom to present day.

Brenda Marinen, Chestelm’s Administrator, gave a warm welcome to the scores of people in attendance, delivering opening remarks. Along with Boy Scout Troop #22 of East Haddam, Haddam Boy Scout troop #44’s Eagle Scout Evan Mainetti and Scout Gabe Denison, participated in the posting of the colors, accompanied by the distinctive music of the bagpipe. This full color guard was led by VFW Post 3336.

The Nathan Hale Ray High School Choral Group sang the National Anthem, the sweet voices lofting over the breeze, as the sun danced in and out of the increasing cloud cover. The sounds of youth segued into the voices of Chestelm residents proudly and clearly reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Father Greg Galvin, of St. Bridgett’s Church, gave the invocation, a tribute both spiritual and patriotic. Retired US Navy Commander Manny Meneses, Veteran Liason from Congressman Courtney’s Office, also gave remarks expressing gratitude. Emmet Lyman, First Selectman of East Haddam, declared June 2, 2017 a day for honoring veterans.

Speeches then gave way to musical celebrations of each military branch, sung by Nathan Hale Middle School students: Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Marine Corps, and the Merchant Marines. It began to rain, but the students continued to sing; they sang with clarity, unity, and soul. The rain neither muted the voices nor dampened the spirits of those who sang and those who listened to the celebratory songs of our nation.

Students then sang a stirring rendition of God Bless America, with Rosemarie Evans adeptly directing the youth. Finally, Marinan unveiled the Wall of Honor that will be on display at Chestelm to recognize the veterans at Chestelm:

Wesley Homes, Marines E-4 Corporal, 3rd Rank
John Kostoss, Army Corporal
Vincent Caronna, Navy
Ronal Quinn, Navy
Mary Hammel, US Pentagon, Clerical
Frances Strukus, Marine E-5 Sergeant
Jack Hewes, Coast Guard Lieutenant, Jr Grade 0-2
Richard Goodrich, Army Private
John Jenkins, Coast Guard
Richard Lysz, Army, Electronic Technician
Gilles Laroche, Army Private First Class, E-3 Rank
Harry Dolan, Army Staff Sergeant
Sally Watson, Woman’s Army Corp, Pvt E-1

Just as the event came to a close, the rain subsided and the sun shone once more – a fitting way to conclude the ceremony of honor and memory.

Photos by Christine Mainetti.