Rain Does Not Deter Unveiling of CT Trees of Honor Plaques for Gold Star Families
Posted on October 13, 2014
Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com
Amidst steady, sometimes heavy rain, Gold Star Families and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman were honored guests Saturday, October 11, at the private unveiling of personalized plaques to memorialize Connecticut’s fallen in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“These are tears falling, coming down right now,” Wyman said about the raindrops during a moving ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Middletown, Connecticut.
Wyman not only offered words of praise to the fallen heroes and solace to those they left behind, but also her seat to a Gold Star Mother as the group gathered under a canopy to take cover from the rain.
Sue Martucci, CTHM president, gave a special thank you to Middletown Mayor Dan Drew.
“I want to thank you for your confidence in us to get this beautiful memorial,” said Martucci.
By now the story of the CT Trees of Honor’s humble beginnings is well-known. It started with a small group of women, Martucci and friends, sitting around a table over a cup of coffee talking about their desire to bring recognition to the fallen and help ease the pain of Connecticut’s Gold Star Families, who had lost loved ones in the two wars. Among the biggest hurdles in realizing their dream of planting a living memorial grove of trees was to find a location. Enter Mayor Drew. According to Martucci, Drew embraced the idea and with his backing the CTHM Committee was able to move forward.
Drew spoke Saturday of post 9/11 America.
“We understood, we face a new dynamic in this world,” he said.
Following the “vacuum” of the end of the Cold War, Drew said there were “evil people” who did not comprehend the goodness of the United States and sought to hurt Americans. Those in the U.S. Armed Forces who stood up against that evil, and in so doing were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, have left enduring legacies
of courage, he added
Martucci also thanked the large presence of military personnel taking part in the ceremony, including sailors who one by one lifted the covers off the plaques adjacent to each planted memorial tree, and then saluted. The fallen’s names were read by Martucci while a bell from Engine 1 was rung. Gold Star Family members, some holding bouquets of flowers they brought, stood out in the rain to be close to the plaques. Slowly, the skies gave a reprieve, the rain subsided and the sun could be seen on the horizon.
Also in attendance was a unit of future Marines waiting for placement in boot camp.
Among the Gold Star Families were CTHM committee member Diane DeLuzio and her husband, of Glastonbury, who quietly walked out hand- in- hand for the unveiling of the plaque honoring their son, Sgt. Steven DeLuzio.
For Ceferino and Gladys Rivera of Waterbury, parents of Army SSG Edwin Rivera who was killed in Afghanistan on May 25, 2010, the memorial is very meaningful.
“He had just turned 28,” said Gladys Rivera, “He was always the guy with good humor. He was the one who kept everybody laughing here and in his unit. He loved children – that is why he wanted to go to Afghanistan, to help the families. He had a good, warm heart.”
As she touched her hand to her own heart, Mrs Rivera reflected on the significance of the memorial to her and her husband, “This means that I know for a fact that Edwin will not be forgotten. It is a place for us to come.”
(More work is needed to complete the CTHM project. Go to cttreesofhonor.com for more information.)