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PHOTO — Veterans, dignitaries and guests bow their heads as West Haven Fire Department firefighter Anthony Mancini rings the department’s chrome bell 11 times at 11 a.m. in honor of Veterans Day Friday, Nov. 11, in Bradley Point Park. Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, is celebrated on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, marking the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I in 1918. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
WEST HAVEN, Nov. 14, 2016 — A legion of veterans and their families, joined by members of the West Haven Veterans Council and city officials, came out Friday morning, Nov. 11, for a solemn Veterans Day tribute on the Veterans Walk of Honor in Bradley Point Park.
Amid a beautiful autumn breeze, the seaside ceremony featured remarks from Mayor Edward M. O’Brien, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and O’Brien’s executive assistant, John W. Lewis, the master of ceremonies.
“We are grateful for the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their contributions to protecting our country,” O’Brien told the crowd of about 150, which included state Rep. Stephen D. Dargan, D-West Haven, elected state Rep. Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, and City Council members Robbin Watt Hamilton, D-5, Sean P. Ronan, D-9, and Ronald M. Quagliani, D-at large.
Blumenthal said, “I thank our veterans for making America the greatest nation in the history of the world.”
The event also included remarks from Veterans Council President Dave Ricci, who kicked off the 10th phase of the council’s popular Brick Campaign.
The half-hour ceremony consisted of a presentation of the colors by the West Haven Police Color Guard, a flag-raising by the West Haven Fire Department Honor Guard, the national anthem and “America the Beautiful” by Grace Kelly Nowak, an opening prayer by AMVETS Post 1 chaplain Francis Blanchette, and a closing prayer by Frederick Kaiser, chaplain of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9422.
It also featured a bell-ringing at 11 a.m. and taps played by former West Shore Fire Department Lt. Kevin McKeon.
During the event, Ricci reminded attendees that VFW Cmdr. Freddy Jackson, 72, an Army veteran who served in Colorado and Korea in 1963-66, will serve as grand marshal of the city’s 2017 Memorial Day parade. Jackson was selected to lead this year’s parade, but it was canceled due to rain.
Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, is celebrated on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, marking the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I in 1918.
In November 2006, the Veterans Council began the first of 10 campaigns selling bricks to memorialize vets on the 100-yard Walk of Honor between the William A. Soderman and Vietnam Veterans memorials.
The bricks, which cost $75, have charcoal lettering for personalized messages. Applications are available in the mayor’s office at City Hall, 355 Main St. For details, call 203-937-3510. Applications are due March 15.
About 2,500 bricks have been installed so far, including 135 for the ninth phase, which was dedicated May 28, and 104 for the eighth phase, which was dedicated in May 2015 along with a granite stone in memory of Lorelee “Lori” Grenfell, longtime president of the Veterans Council, who died Feb. 19, 2015, at age 60. The memorial was crafted by Giordano Bros. Monuments of Derby Avenue.
The walkway’s first phase and the city’s first Korean War memorial were dedicated in May 2007.
In May 2008, the walkway’s second phase and a memorial in honor of World War II Army Pfc. William A. Soderman were dedicated.
Soderman received the Medal of Honor after he distinguished himself in December 1944 while defending an important road junction near Rocherath, Belgium.
Four years after his death, on July 1, 1984, the flagpole in Bradley Point Park was dedicated in Soderman’s memory.
City Human Resources Commissioner Beth A. Sabo has overseen the construction of all phases of the walkway, which was built by City Point Construction Co. of Fresh Meadow Road.
Sabo has also supervised the design and placement of the granite Korean War and Soderman memorials, which were made by Shelley Bros. Monuments of Guilford.
Also in 2008, 14 grave markers that signify every war in U.S. history and peacetime were dedicated. The markers are mounted on granite posts.
To view the photo gallery, click on Scenes from the 2016 Veterans Day Tribute below.
— MICHAEL P. WALSH, Public Relations Information Coordinator