KENT—In a short and solemn ceremony last Saturday, Kent residents paid homage to the men and women who have served in the military to preserve American freedom. The Veterans Day ceremony was held at the monuments on Maple Street with the Rev. John Heeckt, First Selectman Jean Speck, American Legion Post Commander Brent Kallstrom and former Naval Intelligence Officer Kathleen Lindenmayer speaking.
The ceremony was videotaped by Caitlin Lynch to be given later to Robert Bauer, 98, Kent’s only surviving World War II veteran. Bauer was referred to frequently during the service and applauded loudly by those attending.
In an opening prayer, the Rev. Mr. Heeckt asked his listeners to be mindful of the cost of liberty. A bagpiper played Taps, and an emotional Speck thanked all veterans, saying, “We are so lucky to have all of you protecting us.” She also thanked the Veterans Memorial Committee for creating “this wonderful monument” and keeping it up to date with the names of new veterans.
Kallstrom recounted the history of Veterans Day from its original incarnation as Armistice Day at the end of World War I, often dubbed “the war to end all wars.” “That peace did not survive the fascist tyrannies of Hitler and Mussolini,” he lamented, adding that “the freedom enjoyed by Europeans today is the result of the service and sacrifice of millions of Americans.”
“For many veterans of our nation, it was important to endure long separations, to miss the births of children, to freeze in subzero temperatures or bake in jungles, to lose limbs and, too often, their lives” for freedom, he said.
And it was not just the veterans who served. Kallstrom noted that, “Their spouses have endured the interruption of careers, frequent changes of address and a disproportionate share of parenting.” All this for a “legacy of freedom.”
At present, fewer than 10 percent of the nation’s population can claim to be veterans. “That is half of one percent,” he said. Yet, these men and women have ensured “freedom and security and have made us the greatest nation on Earth. It is impossible to put a price on that. We must remember them; we will appreciate them,” he concluded.
Lindenmayer gave the closing prayer, invoking a blessing on the members of the military services and veterans. “Give them courage, hope and strength throughout their lives,” she prayed, ending her supplication with a plea for “an end to wars, especially those on our horizons and the dawning of a new era of peace.”
Following the ceremony, a luncheon for all veterans and their families was held at St. Andrew’s Church.