‘Some things worth fighting for’
By John Faucher
Threatening skies and periodic rain showers didn’t stop hundreds of visitors, veterans and citizens from attending the dedication of the newly built New London Area Veterans Memorial on Saturday, Aug. 26.
National, state and local delegations from veteran’s service organizations were among those in attendance.
New London Area Veterans Memorial Foundation Secretary James Jaeger began the ceremony by honoring the late Donald J. Quaintance, who was instrumental in getting the memorial started in New London.
Quaintance was a decorated World War II veteran. He was deeply committed to seeing a memorial built for all veterans of the greater New London area.
Standing beside a large photograph of Quaintance placed in front of the memorial walls, Jaeger told the audience, “Don was one of the guys that got us started. He was a paratrooper in WWII who parachuted into Holland and went all the way through into the Battle of the Bulge and ended up at Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest.
“Don had a very, very active life as a veteran. He was a great guy,” said Jaeger.
Quaintance passed away on Friday, Aug. 25, one day before the dedication ceremony. Members of his family were in attendance for him.
Quaintance watched the memorial progress from its idea phases in late 2014 to its recent completion. He was able to attend the 2017 Memorial Day observance held at the newly built New London Area Veterans Memorial.
At Saturday’s dedication ceremony U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher addressed the crowd.
He said it is great to see veterans of all the wars coming together to support each other, especially during a time when the country seems divided.
“The good news for all of us here today, is we don’t need to go to Washington D.C. to see monuments to our country and to our veteran’s sacrifices. We can just come right here to New London.”
“And I’m not just talking about this beautiful structure that you’ve labored so hard to put together and raised money to build. I’m talking about the community itself. A small community to be sure, but a strong one—a community so strong that the 690-some odd names on this wall felt that it was worth risking their lives, in some cases giving their lives to defend.”
He spoke on the importance of leading younger generations by that example and the cycle of patriotism in passing the torch from one generation to the other.
“My hope is when people drive by this monument that they stop and take the time to read the names. They will not only be reminded of our veterans’ sacrifices, but what we owe to this country still as members of this community,” said Gallagher.
“Thank the veterans’ here today, thank the names on these walls for reminding us that there are still some things worth fighting for, there are still some things worth dying for. This community and this country are among those things,” said Gallagher.