Master Chief Richard Iannucci rang the bell on Fairfields docks 54 times. With veterans, current soldiers, public officials and other Fairfielders watching, he sounded 54 peals of the bell to signify the 54 veterans and servicemen from Fairfield, Black Rock and Westport who died over the past year. Iannucci served as the chief petty officer for the day as Fairfielders gathered at the South Benson Marina on Saturday morning to honor those lost at sea in honor of Memorial Day.
This is a Fairfield tradition in keeping with a longtime maritime tradition, said Capt. Roger Crossland, a retired officer of the U.S. Navy who was the ceremonys emcee. We are here to honor, not to grieve.
Six local veterans organizations participated in Saturdays ceremony, each honoring their members who died over the past year. The American Legion Post 74 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9427 as well as the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 19, all of Fairfield, were joined by Black Rocks Port 5 Naval Veterans Club and Westports American Legion Post 145 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 399 at Saturdays ceremony.
After a Fairfield Ludlowe High Schools Choral Group sang the National Anthem, Crossland started the ceremony by reminding the gathered crowd of the events importance. He asked all the veterans present to step forward for a salute.
Its sometimes hard to visualize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, he said. Look at these veterans, and imagine someone who gave their lives for their country the same age and disposition.
After the American Legion and VFW leaders read the names of those who are gone, Korean War veteran Phil Cera laid a wreath in the harbor with the help of Dave Schultz, son of the late World War II veteran Ed Schultz while the Gaelic American Clubs Pipe and Drum Band played Amazing Grace." The wreath symbolizes placing flowers on the graves of all those lost or buried at sea.
Services such as these honor the memories of those resting in watery graves without a marker, Crossland said. When we place wreaths upon the waters of Long Island Sound, we are symbolically decorating graves on the many oceans around the world.
Do you know anyone who was lost at sea or who died at war? Share your memories in the comments below.
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