A crowd of almost sixty attended Suffield’s traditional Veterans Day Ceremony at Veterans Park on the morning of November 11. And at 11 minutes after 11:00 on that 11th day of the 11th month, Master of Ceremonies William Moryto called for 11 seconds of silent thought about the event. November 11, 1918, was the reported time of signing the armistice document that ended fighting in the European region of the world-wide conflict originally called the Great War, and later World War One.
The day was originally observed with the name Armistice Day, but in 1960, with prisoners from the recent Korean War still not returned and casualties from Vietnam mounting, the yearly ceremony was renamed Veterans Day.
That day in Suffield this year was arranged, as it has been for many years, by the Suffield Landry-Sic Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Moryto, current commander of the Suffield VFW, introduced several other officers of the post, seated on the elevated terrace next to the Veterans Memorial. Suffield High School senior Jacob Potter sang the National Anthem, and VFW Chaplain Fritz King gave an invocation. Moryto commented that King was also the Suffield Veterans Representative, a Town office that assists local veterans in many ways. (He holds office hours weekly in the Suffield Senior Center.)
Moryto commented that the most recent Suffield veteran’s death to be reported was that of Frederick Fitch, for whom a star has been added to the Veterans Memorial in the Vietnam list, as his recent death was caused by an injury in that war.
Following the traditional period of silence for the time of signing the World War One armistice, Gunnery Sgt. King led a three-man VFW firing squad, who fired a three-round volley. Moryto then read several meaningful journal entries written by service men during their time in the Vietnam War.
The keynote speaker was First Selectman Colin Moll. At Suffield’s Memorial Day ceremony, he had spoken about sacrifice. Now, in his brief but thoughtful address, he examined honor and pride: the honor that pertains to having worked to help our country and others retain their cherished independence, and the pride that veterans have when they hear the National Anthem or are recognized in some way as being in the service or being a veteran of that service. A four-year veteran of the U. S. Army, he often feels that honor and pride, and he was sure that many others of us do as well.
M. C. Moryto closed the ceremony at about 11:20, but many attendees remained clustered in neighborly conversation for some time.