SOUTHINGTON – Raising his dog tags into the air, Steven McCarty, commander of Southington’s American Legion Post, told his fellow veterans to show their tags too.
“There are veterans all around you, quietly going about their daily lives. They have witnessed history, performed amazing duties and can relive memories of laughter and tears,” McCarty said, standing on the steps of the Legion’s downtown building during Saturday’s Veterans Day ceremony. “They stand today for their nation, they stand today for their flag. They stood against tyranny, they stood against oppression. They stood for the weak and they only bow their knees to their god.”
Members of the Southington chapter of the Marine Corps League performed a three-volley salute and laid wreathes on the monument bearing the names of those who served from Southington. Local Cub Scouts, who marched alongside the League, placed flags alongside the wreathes.
“It’s a display of having appreciation of our country,” said Walter Hushak, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1942.
Hushak and other Legion members visit local schools to talk to children about their military service. When they occasionally ask him if he ever regrets enlisting, he tells them “never.” His time in the military changed him in ways he’s still surprised by.
“It imposed on you a dimension you won’t get anywhere else,” he said.
“I think it’s our country now, more than anything, that most fully unites us,” said State Sen. Joe Markley, who district includes Southington. “Those who serve are the ones who are most bound to this country.”
Markley said that speaking at Veteran’s Days ceremonies has increased his appreciation of veterans and given him the opportunity to thank them. Speaking in the Legion’s hall after the ceremony, he called their willingness to defend their country “one of the most noble things a person can do.”
Eileen Carey, president of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 72, told those gathered that Southington’s celebration was a spark in the nation’s honoring of veterans.
“When you go out and vote, thank a veteran for that right,” she said. “We are allowed to do that because of our veterans.”