WESTPORT, Conn. — Sir Esteban Francisco Sebourny said he was compelled to honor veterans in his family as he joined veterans, their families, grateful citizens and town officials at Westport Town Hall on Friday morning for Veterans Day services.
"I have relatives who fought in wars," Sebourny said. "That is something that needs to be honored. Individuals that we have today, it is only appropriate that I stand with them. They lend their service for the freedom we have today."
Sharing his sentiments, Annie Fasanella wore a specially decorated hat for the occasion. She also brought with her the bag her father, Dr. Rocko Fasanella, an Army captain and doctor, carried with him when he served in World War II.
"He set up hospitals in France and Germany," she said. "His brother, my godfather, was with the 101st Airborne. He survived Normandy."
Fasanella's brother also served, in the Navy. Her best friend, an Army captain, is married to a retired colonel and they have a daughter now also serving as a captain in the Army, Fasanella said.
Sitting quietly near the back of the auditorium was Alex Boboc of Westport. The 84-year-old veteran served in the Korean War.
His 94-year-old brother, John, was recently recognized by Sen. Richard Blumenthal for his service during World War II . John Boboc, born on June 6, spent his 22nd birthday on the beaches of Normandy, as part of the D-Day invasion.
"He was my hero," Alex Boboc said. "He inspired me to sign up."
The two brothers had spoken earlier in the morning. Alex was looking forward to having John show him the certificate Blumenthal gave him during a surprise presentation in Norwalk last month.
The Westport Community Band, under Sal LaRusso's direction, struck up a patriotic tune, signaling the start of ceremonies. After the music, William "Bill" Vornkahl, president of Westport Veterans Council and master of ceremonies, introduced Scott Tilton from St. Paul Lutheran Church to give an invocation. Sue Henry of VFW Post 399 Ladies Auxiliary led the room in the Pledge of Allegiance.
After the band played the National Anthem, First Selectman James Marpe gave some remarks and read a Veterans Day Proclamation.
Marpe referenced the contentious election earlier in the week, reminding the crowd that this was not the first time presidential campaigns took a nasty bent. He listed John Quincy Adams versus Andrew Jackson, Lincoln versus Douglas, and McKinley versus Bryan as similarly contentious elections. The main difference now, he noted, was the amplifying effect of social media.
"What has not changed is our right to free speech and our right to representation," Marpe said. "We have an intact democracy supported by basic ideals, that democracy that our veterans defended and our military still defends"We are a country of laws and guaranteed freedoms. We have a system of government that will endure and remains strong in no small part because our veterans fought to make it so."
After Marpe's remarks, the band played "Elegy," by Larry MacTaggart, a piece written in memory of the members of the USS Arizona. Following that, Spencer Daniels, a senior at Staples High School, gave a Veterans Day address.
Daniels plans to serve in the military. He spoke of the impact veterans, like his great-grandfather who served in World War II, have had on him and the 11 of his classmates who plan to enter the military.
"Patriotism and service to country are still alive in our generation," Daniels said. "Frankly, this will never dissipate."
After thanking the veterans present for their service, Daniels ended by saying, "I hope I can make all of you proud of my service."
The placing of the memorial wreath followed, with a firing detail provided by Westport Police Department and "Taps" played by Samantha Atlas and Emily Burke from Staples High School.
Finally, as the band played an Armed Forces Salute incorporating the songs of the Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force and Navy, veterans of each branch were encouraged to stand and wave when their song was played.