Soon joining the memorial plaques commemorating the town’s soldiers engaged in conflicts going back as far as the Revolutionary War will be a remembrance to Persian Gulf veterans involved in Operation Desert Storm. The war occurred in 1991 in the Persian Gulf, which is bordered by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Although not yet engraved, small, replica flags at the foot of the Newtown Soldiers and Sailors Monument outlined the marker’s space. The roughly 25 names will be set on a marker similar to those already placed around the monument at the intersection where Main Street, Hanover Road, and School House Roads converge.
Persian Gulf War Memorial Committee representative Mae Schmidle explained that the idea for the plaque emerged from a parents’ group that had formed during the war. “People contributed money…and when the war was over I knew we had to put the money toward this…” She continued, “The ceremony today is to tell you that on this spot will be the names of the people who served.” She anticipates that the engraved marker will be installed in May.
Attending the brief ceremony with his family was Jeff Zahansky, a Gulf War veteran who welcomed the plaque’s addition to the monument.
He said, “It is nice to see the community coming together to honor those who served…” More important, he noted, was to look ahead to the conflict in which the troops are now involved. “It’s real,” he said.
Korean War veteran and Newtown’s State Representative Julia Wasserman also joined those gathered on Saturday morning, November 11, Veterans’ Day. She said, “I feel strongly about this.”
Also joining the group with his family was Ben Wallen, currently an instructor in West Point, who had served in the Army in Iraq during the current war.
First Selectman Herb Rosenthal believes the day and the gesture of an additional plaque are fitting. He said, “This will be a complete memorial to those who served.” Also contemplating the current battles waged today, he said, “Take a moment too, to think of those in harm’s way now.” Ms Schmidle is not sure of plans for a plaque for the ongoing war in Iraq.