Westonites show military support
Residents and town leaders do not have to dust off their patriotism for the upcoming Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays; they live for the red, white and blue every day and in particular for military veterans and active duty personnel.
About 150 townspeople gathered at Weston High School Auditorium Sunday to celebrate Weston's Community Covenant with the Military, which recognizes the commitment and sacrifices of men and women from all branches of service.
"Regardless of what you feel about any particular military action or war, the reality is that there are many men and women who are stationed around this world who left the comfort and security of their homes so we can have the comfort and security of ours, and they unequivocally, absolutely deserve our support," said First Selectman Gayle Weinstein, who later read the covenant and signed the document.
A Community Covenant is a formal commitment by state and local communities to soldiers and their families -- active, guard and reserve. The program was launched in April 2008 in Columbus, Ga., and has spread around the country. More than 800 communities have signed similar covenants. Weston's covenant asks residents to support the military personnel serving in harm's way, military families while their loved ones are deployed and veterans and wounded warriors when they return home.
"This assembly here today represents an event which, I think, is unique in the United States; that is, a small community, which has no direct connection to the military in any form, which has done so much to extend a hand of appreciation to our military personnel," said Gil Sanborn, the civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army for Connecticut. Sanborn, the event's master of ceremonies, had veterans and active duty military members stand and be recognized. They were greeted with a standing ovation.
The event included the viewing of a documentary called The Surge, and a keynote speech from a man who was involved in the surge in Baghdad back in 2006 and 2007. Col. J.B. Burton discussed the role of the Dagger Brigade during the surge as well as the impact that Weston residents had on brigade members during their deployment.
"Thank you for all that you have done and what you continue to do for our service members at home and abroad, and their family members, as they continue to step forward and accept challenges and serve something that is larger than self, knowing fully well that what they have chosen to protect and defend is well worth it," Burton said.
Greg Murphy attended the event with his wife Michelle and son James, 13, "to show our respect and admiration for our military as well as to take the opportunity for our son to learn about the people who are protecting our liberty."
Catherine Rainone brought her children -- Philip, 16, James, 12, and Elizabeth, 11. James, a member of the Boy Scouts Troop 788, led the color guard. Philip wants to go to West Point and serve in the Army. Rainone said her brother was deployed to Kuwait in 2008 and spent a year away from his children.
"It impressed on me what it means to value our country and be willing to fight and possibly die for it," she said.
State Rep. Toni Boucher reminded the audience, "there is someone at this very moment who is putting their life on the line for us -- not for recognition do they do this but simply because they love America. We should all thank them and support them every day."
Sanborn gave to Burton a gift of the town flag, which the colonel had flown over Camp Liberty in Baghdad and then returned to the Connecticut community.