SOUTHINGTON — Veterans who served in or during the Vietnam War will be honored at a ceremony this November at an event organized by the town’s Veterans Committee.
The committee began planning the ceremony, which will take place at the Calendar House, after successfully applying to become a commemorative partner with the U.S. Department of Defense. Families of the nine soldiers from Southington who lost their lives in the conflict will also be invited.
John DeMello Sr., a committee member, said he is organizing the Nov. 11 ceremony along with local groups and Jackie Gualtieri, sister of Vietnam War veteran Francis Gualtieri.
“They always wanted to do something for Vietnam veterans,” DeMello said.
Gualtieri said her brother, who died in 2016, suffered from the effects of Agent Orange. She will have a table with information on health problems caused by exposure to the defoliant.
“So many of these guys have it and don’t realize it,” she said.
Gualtieri described the ceremony as a way to honor veterans.
“We’ll have a ceremony where they’ll get their Vietnam pins, because they never had a proper welcome home. It really bothered me,” she said. “We’re excited. I hope we get a good turnout. It’s something that’s well-deserved, that should have been done a long, long time ago,”
Southington Bread for Life, Community Services and the United Way will participate. The groups are among those that help “down and out veterans,” DeMello said.
The veterans committee recently got office space at Town Hall, which makes organizing efforts such as November’s ceremony easier. DeMello said the office provides a place to meet veterans and provide help.
He’s looking to line up speakers for the ceremony. Veterans will be awarded with a lapel pin provided by the Defense Department as well as a certificate for their service between 1955 and 1975.
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