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Westport Celebrates Veterans

Pride filled the air at Westport Town Hall Thursday as veterans and civilians alike honored the men and women who have served and continue to serve their country. First Selectman Gordon Joseloff called it the biggest Veterans Day Ceremony in years.

"It's particularly delightful to see so many in the Town Hall auditorium," Joseloff said. "We've had observances in the past where, frankly, it hasn't been as crowded as this. I'm especially delighted to see young people participating."

Members of Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Ladies Auxiliary of Post 399 and August Mathias Post 63 of the American Legion joined the celebration, complete with patriotic music by the Westport Community Band.

Staples High School senior Sean Gallagher, who will attend the U.S. Naval Academy next year, also honored the veterans.

"It may be difficult to articulate the true gratitude all of us have for the years of service a veteran has given," the 17-year-old said. "But in the end, all any of us can do is say two simple words: Thank You. Thank you for the years of your life you have given to defend this country. Thank you for sacrificing your ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs. Thank you for putting your own life on the line so that others may live."

At the close of the nearly hour-long ceremony, William Vornkahl, president of the Westport Veterans Council, who served as master of ceremonies, read a poem, which he reads every year.

"It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. ..." Vornkahl read. "It is the soldier, not the politician, who has given his blood, his body, his life, who has given us these freedoms."

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