Just up the hill from the only Vietnam memorial in Connecticut that has every name engraved honoring all 612 that died in the war Coventry held a fitting tribute to those men and all that never returned from battle. The ceremony was truly a tribute in memory and honor for those that sacrificed their lives for our nation. Something was wrong, something that should not happen did happen and the reaction was disturbing.
On May 25th Governor Malloy declared in accordance with the U.S. Flag Code, that U.S. and state flags in Connecticut were to fly at half-staff from sunrise until noon on Memorial Day. Lt. Governor Wyman said, “I urge all of our residents to turn out to support Memorial Day events in their cities and towns and pay tribute to the sacrifice of the heroes who died defending us. There are few things more important that we can do as citizens of our great nation.” For the complete text of the Governor’s Press Release click this link: http://www.governor.ct.gov/malloy/cwp/view.asp?A=4010&Q=505050
In Coventry on this day set aside for honor and remembrance the flags over the Vietnam Memorial were not at half-staff. Shamefully it could have been an oversight since other flags on Veterans Memorial Green were being flown correctly. The error was brought to the attention of the Coventry Town Manager and it was his response that was cavalier and totally inappropriate especially given the timing and location.
The error was pointed out to Mr. Elsesser shortly before the ceremony of remembrance on Veteran’s Memorial Green, and his first response was, “We are not paying time and a half for that”. To which he was told “that is not an excuse”. The next response was we don’t have a key. The key, as it turns out was available in the car of a local citizen. The flag remained at full staff.
To dishonor with carelessness is bad enough, but given the chance to correct the situation and to respond with offhanded arrogance is unacceptable. This should never have happened and it should never happen again. The Town should have a key available for emergency situations for any locked facility locate on Town property.
The issue of paying to have a flag lowered and raised for Memorial Day is nonsense and in this case disrespectful. The issue isn’t money the issue is respect and honor. Those 612 men didn’t ask for “time and a half” they gave their lives in defense of freedom. The very least we can do is give them honor and respect on Memorial Day.
This should not happen in Coventry, this should not happen in American, not on this day, on this day we should give full measure of honor and respect. Every citizen in Coventry and indeed America owes a debt of gratitude to all these men and their families.
As a community we should demand our leadership respect the honor due our departed sons and daughters lost in war. As a community we must pledge to never let this happen again, never again shall we be disrespectful to the 612 or any other person being honored on Memorial Day.
The pictorial presentation of the Parade and ceremonies originally scheduled for today will be posted in tomorrow’s Opining Quill