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Sunday, May 29, 2011

FROM WALLINGFORD - Memorial Day and legacy


As published in the Record Journal Sunday May 29, 2011

This week’s FROM WALLINGFORD is written by my counterpart on the column – Stephen Knight

Tomorrow is one of our nation’s most important days: Memorial Day — a day of remembrance of and thanks to those who have laid down their lives in service to us, to their country and to the very concept of freedom. It has also become an opportunity to thank those who have served and are still here to hear a grateful nation say it.

But as wonderful as are the speeches and the parades, what makes me even prouder of America are the day-to-day activities that so many Americans are involved in to support our military men and women.

One of those efforts is Holy Joe’s Café, a group within the First Congregational Church of Wallingford supplying donated coffee to military chaplains in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. I hope you have read one of the recent Record-Journal articles about it, because space does not allow me to give you much detail.

Suffice it to say that Tom Jastermsky, who is heading up the effort, and Carol Wallace, whose company has donated thousands and thousands of dollars packaging and shipping the coffee, are the primary two people who have made this program work.

But there have been others, and I want to use them as examples of some of the support you might never see, support that is given instantly, enthusiastically and with no questions asked other than “when do we start.” CCI Logistics in Wallingford has donated warehouse space for two years now – thousands of dollars worth.

T.R. Brysh, an owner-operator freight hauler; RKZ Trucking; Bailey’s Express of Middletown; Old Dominion Freight Lines and Andreucci Trucking all provided transportation. It costs a lot of money to operate a truck or warehouse, but if it was “for the troops,” they were just grateful to have been asked.

These acts of love and respect for our military are found all over this country. Go to and you will see an index of ninety-four volunteer groups dedicated to support our military in some way, and that list doesn’t even include large ones such as Fisher House Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project or Soldier’s Angels. Scroll through this list and see if it doesn’t put a lump in your throat and pride in your heart about what America is all about. And think of the thousands of local efforts by school students and others involved in all manner of activities aimed at making sure that members of the United States military know in what high esteem they are held.

There are two reasons for all this effort. The first is obvious. The people in the military service of the United States of America are the best in the world at what they do. The best trained, the most disciplined, the most compassionate and, at the same time, the most humble. Why wouldn’t we support such professionalism?

But the second reason is this: there was a period in our history when we civilians did not conduct ourselves properly when it came to supporting our military personnel. They do not call the Korean War “The Forgotten War” for nothing. And the Viet Nam War? Many, many of us will spend the rest of our lives trying to make right what we did – or more accurately – did not do when soldiers returned from that awful conflict. And we most certainly did not support their efforts when they were in theater as we should have.

So I would like to conclude this piece by speaking directly to those of you who served in these two conflicts: When you see soldiers being cheered as they walk though airports; if you see a stranger walk up to a soldier and say thanks; if you read of efforts such as Holy Joe’s Cafe and thousands of similar projects, know that this is part of your legacy. Some of that love, some of that respect, some of that admiration that you see is for you. It is late, but it is real.

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