Calling it an “inspired idea,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy lauded the Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial group for its choice of to host the state's first memorial to its men and women who died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"(The memorial is) a way to honor in a living fashion, in a growing fashion, those that have made the ultimate sacrifice," Malloy said Tuesday at the official announcement in Veterans Park.
Glastonbury Gold Star Mother Diane DeLuzio, whose son Steven, a 25-year-old sergeant in the Vermont National Guard killed in Afghanistan Aug. 22, 2010, joined Middletown Mayor Daniel T. Drew, state Reps. Matthew Lesser (D-100), (D-33) and Christie Carpino (R-32), state (R-13), Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial President Sue Martucci, Common Council members, representatives from American Legion Post 75 and Larry McHugh, president of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, for the announcement.
“I’ve only been governor for a very short period of time, but during that time, I’ve been called upon on behalf of the people of Connecticut to express our sympathies to families that have lost a loved one,” Malloy said.
“Nancy Wyman, the lieutenant governor, and I have attended a number of funerals, made a number of calls to parents who might live in the state and in each and every one of those instances, our hearts go out to the families that are left to grieve their fallen hero,” Malloy said.
The Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial will encompass a designed space that will include a shade tree planted for each of the state’s 63 military members who gave their lives serving in Iraq and Afghanistan during Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Mayor Drew said he was thrilled with the project and how it will, in a permanent way, "show respect for the men and women that served our country and who fell in service for their country deserve here in a park that was dedicated originally for veterans and their deeds — what Abraham Lincoln called ‘the last full measure of devotion.’”
A personalized plaque will be displayed next to each tree, and it will also feature walkways, flower gardens, benches, flagpoles, statues and lighting.
It will be paid for with private donations. The City of Middletown will construct a pond in the center of the memorial.
McHugh said he would donate the first $1,000 on behalf of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.
Malloy said Tuesday's announcement was especially poignant for him, as his brother and cousins served in Vietnam.
"Coming home to the ceremony at the armory in Hartford this past winter," Malloy said, "To see the men and women who served in various services — Coast Guard, Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force — march down the center of the armory to the thunderous applause of their family and comrades … Let us never make the mistakes of that conflict in failing to welcome and celebrate the accomplishments of those individuals and this monument will make sure that will never happen to those that served in the Middle East."