Fairfield celebrates Veterans Day with annual ceremony
Fairfield celebrated Veterans Day with its annual ceremony outside of the Old Town Hall on Saturday morning.
Sponsors said Fairfield is known to have a rich history of military service, including a Medal of Honor.
Christopher DeWitt, Commander for the American Legion Post 143, spoke on the importance of celebrating veterans.
“For many veterans, our nation was important enough to endure long separations from their families, miss the birth of their children, freeze in subzero temperatures, roast in faraway deserts, lose limbs, and - far too often - their lives,” DeWitt said.
Veterans like Andre Kalapir were not welcomed back from Vietnam and recalled receiving poor treatment.
“People really didn't care for us. Why? I don't know. I did my job for my country, and that's what I wanted to do. Now, it's completely different. I mean, people stop you on the street and say 'thank you.' I mean, you never expected that. Even the young kids nowadays,” Kalapir said.
Veterans noted that recruitment numbers are down - but say those who serve gain so much.
“I think the biggest thing you get is discipline and strong friendship. I mean, I'm still in touch with the guys that I was in Vietnam with,” Kalapir added.
Elwood Wahlquist, another veteran, served in the U.S. Army from 1960 to 1963.
“Not only did we serve, but we continue to serve our communities,” he said.
In Fairfield, a wall commemorates everyone in town who has served, from World War I to the Global War on Terror.
“Everyone’s name [is] up there with a star next to [who] has died. It humbles you to know that there are so many from here who went and served, and so many didn't return. I still love all those guys. They’re in my mind, they're in my thoughts. How can one forget?” Wahlquist said.
“I had three uncles who were in the Second World War. One died over in Europe. I think that has a lot to do with why I'm here,” Kalapir said.
Sgt. John J. Heller, Jr., of the 10th Mountain Division, one of Fairfield's World War II veterans, received a special dedication.
The American Legion Posts 74 and 143 sponsored Saturday's event.