HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Eight years ago, an effort began to establish one central location to honor all Connecticut veterans.
An early plan to locate it in Rocky Hill near the Veterans’ Home and Hospital fizzled, and veterans’ groups and the state rallied around using Minuteman Park in the State Capitol Complex just in front of the State Armory. It would later be called “the perfect location.”
Connecticut National Guard Lt. Col. Lesbia Nieves of Manchester is one of the original board members for the memorial effort.
“[It’s] easily accessible to our highways and right across the street from our State Armory,” Nieves said. “Quite definitely a great location to come together for ceremonies and remembrances.”
“It’s for our past, present, and future veterans,” she said.
Joe and Frank Hendron both had front row seats for the ceremony on Monday. Joe served in Korea, older brother Frank in World War II. They got to be among the first to inspect the engraved granite paving stones that have been purchased to honor their service.
“This is the first one in the state of Connecticut that’s dedicated to all the veterans of Connecticut in all of the wars, so we’re happy that it’s done,” said Joe.
“My name is here on the end of the line, and I’m very happy to see it and all the other fellows…they all deserve a lot of credit,” said Frank.
For the families of Vietnam veterans, these kinds of symbols have extra meaning. The unpopularity of that war caused some people to blame the coming-home veterans. A wound the nation has spent 40 years trying to mend. Tamra McGalughlin-Scott and her nieces placed flowers on a paving stone engraved for her brother Neil.
“We saw the effects when he came home from Vietnam, and it was a tough life back then at first. But he weathered it all. He died this past year in April, so we’re just glad to be here and be able to honor everybody,” she said.
Now and forever, there is that central location to honor the more than 1.3 million Connecticut residents who have served our country since the Revolution. Not just on Veterans Day or Memorial Day, but 365 days a year.
For more information on purchasing an engraved paving stone at the memorial, visit: www.cthonorsvets.org.