FARMINGTON — Members of the American Legion Roderick-Crosby Post 28 gathered on Monday to remember all the men and women sent into battle, and the history that surrounds their service, some of which isn’t found in books.
“How many of us know that Law Mountain in Wilton is named after a Civil War veteran?” asked Rep. Lance Harvell, the Post’s guest speaker.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, May 5, 1868, was the first official Decoration Day. Although many families routinely had decorated veterans’ graves, this became an official recognition of lives lost in the Civil War. Later, Decoration Day was changed to May 30, and after World War I it became the day dedicated to veterans who have died in all American wars. In 1971, an act of Congress moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May.
The veterans gathered in Farmington asked that citizens remember the purpose of the day and remember those who were never found or are buried in graves around the world. Some were women, who played an important part in military history.
“I was one of the WAVES,” Floreice Kennedy said as she steadied herself with a cane on the granite steps of the Post building on High Street.
The Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service program was activated in 1942. According to the Navy’s online history, women were nurses and secretaries, but they also worked in aviation, communications, intelligence, science and technology.
Wives of veterans serve their country as well. Women’s Auxiliary volunteer Camilla Davis, 65, recalled her many years as an Army wife. She raised four children and learned to pack and move efficiently from base to base.
“We lived at Fort Gordon, Fort Monmouth, Fort Hood, Fort Carson and Germany,” she said. “We also went to Quantico and Washington, D.C.”
Other posts required her to be both father and mother when her husband went to Vietnam and Turkey.
Many of the WWII veterans greeted each other after the program with particular intensity. Bob Bean, an Army Air Corps veteran, wore his khaki jacket with its official insignia on one sleeve. He stopped to speak briefly with Ken Durrell, Les Gatchall, Horace Labree and others in uniform.
The group began to disperse as the Old Crow Band began to play and a small parade, with a decorated float of area veterans, started through Farmington’s streets. They stopped at Meetinghouse Park and at Riverside Cemetery to place wreaths at the Civil War, WWII and Veterans Memorial monuments, which honors veterans who served in the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars.