'We are here to remember those who fought': Westporters gather for Veterans Day ceremony

WESTPORT - For Joe Schachter, the uniform veterans have worn throughout time symbolizes a unifying pillar of the country - democracy.

"We don't have enough things that create our pride and acceptance of what democracy does for us," Schachter, a 95-year-old World War II veteran, said. "To see that uniform, to see the posting of colors, to see at a funeral the flag-draped coffin and then that flag be presented to the widow is something that will turn a child on or be memorable and give them a point of view that's different."

Schachter served in World War II as a Navy ensign in the Pacific. He recalled growing up in Norwalk at 15 and finding his mother crying after the country learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

"I realized she was crying about her brother who 22 years earlier had came home a broken man because of being gassed in the fields of France in World War I," he said.

Tears streamed down her face because she realized at the same time both Schachter and his younger brother would likely be called into the armed forces, he said, and they soon were.

"Three years of any activity will change a person, but three years of the military life makes major changes," Schachter said. "You grow up in that time. I went in as a young kid and I came out as a young man - a true man."

Schachter joined other veterans, residents and town officials at VFW Post 399 as part of a service to commemorate Veterans Day.