A ceremony will be held at the Veterans Memorial in West Hartford Center on Nov. 11, and the weekend prior to that flags will be planted at Fairview Cemetery. [Updated]
By Ronni Newton
The Town of West Hartford will honor its veterans with a ceremony on Nov. 11, and will also place flags at the graves of the more than 1,200 military veterans at Fairview Cemetery on Pleasant Street.
West Hartford Public Relations Specialist Renée McCue, who is organizing the flag planting this year, said volunteers from the community are needed to assist with the effort on Saturday, Nov. 7, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Volunteers do not need to RSVP, but must check in at the registration tent at the entrance.
“All COVID-19 protocols will be observed and all volunteers will be required to wear a mask and observe social distancing,” McCue said in an email.
The annual flag placing event is a great educational and/or community service opportunity for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Volunteers may want to bring a screwdriver or other tool to assist in the process if the ground is hard, McCue said.
Veterans Day Ceremony
Capt. Heidi-Anne Aloise Mooney, who served in the United States Marine Corps from 1994-99, has been chosen as the keynote speaker for West Hartford’s annual Veterans Day Ceremony, which is hosted by American Legion Hayes-Velhage Post 96 and will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 11, beginning at 11 a.m. at the Connecticut Veterans Memorial in West Hartford Center.
Those attending will be required to wear masks and observe physical distancing protocols. Due to the state’s rolling. back to Phase 2, attendance will be limited to 100 people.
In the case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be canceled organizers said. In past years the ceremony has been moved indoors, but due to COVID-19 restrictions for indoor gatherings that will not be possible this year.
“We are closely monitoring the weather forecast for Nov. 11 and hope the fair weather approaching this weekend will carry over to next Wednesday,” organizer Moe Fradette said in an email. “If the weather is not suitable for the ceremony we will need to cancel the event. Due to the current restrictions in place for the coronavirus the event will not be moved indoors. We are planning to make a determination on Monday, Nov. 9and will advise all of the plan.”
In addition to the keynote speech, the program will include Mayor Shari Cantor, state Sen. Derek Slap, and the singing of the National Anthem and God Bless America by Conard senior Stephanie Reuning-Scherer.
The keynote speaker, Mooney, now a West Hartford resident, is a native of Bedford, NY, and earned her degree in environmental conservation from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
She initially enrolled in the University’s Naval ROTC program, but the end of her junior year in college she was one of six individuals granted a presidential approval to switch to the Marine Corps. She originally had not considered the Marines as they had blocked women from serving in combat arm positions, but the block was lifted in 1993.
As a college senior, Mooney not only finished her degree but also fulfilled the Marine Corps class requirements in advance of attending Officer Candidate School (OCS). She received her commission as a Marine Corps officer in 1994.
As a 2nd lieutenant, Mooney attended engineer school and was deployed to Okinawa, Japan, in 1995 as the second female combat engineer officer.
She served at 9th Engineer Support Battalion as a platoon commander and then as Battalion XO, traveling to South Korea and other areas in Southwest Asia for host nation support engineering and de-mining projects in Cambodia, Laos, and other countries.
Subsequent assignments included MCAS El Toro, CA, where she served as the G-4 engineer officer and HazMat officer helping manage engineering projects in 29 Palms, MCAS Tustin, Camp Pendleton, and MCAS Miramar.
She worked to create a comprehensive health program for the Marines, focused on seven areas of health and wellness, including mental health – a project which earned her a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. She has also been the recipient of a National Defense Service Medal, two Certificates of Commendation, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and two Letters of Appreciation from the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Mooney relocated from California to West Hartford in 2019 to be closer to her family.
She has two children – a daughter who attends Conard High School and a son who attends Sedgwick Middle School.
She is an active volunteer with the West Hartford Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, as well as Calvary Fellowship Church and American Legion Post 96.
About the American Legion
The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to fellow service members and veterans.
About the Connecticut Veterans Memorial
The Connecticut Veterans Memorial West Hartford is a unique testimonial dedicated to all members of the Armed Services who served the United States beginning with the earliest conflict in the country’s history, the King Philip War, up to the present Global War on Terror.
The Veterans Memorial is a sculptural expression of time and emotion that commemorates the history of all wars. The memorial is a circular Wall of Peace that salutes those who gave their lives for the country.
The wall is constructed of blocks of polished black granite in the form of a circle. At each point along the wall when the Armed Forces entered conflict, the smooth circular wall is violently broken. The names of the West Hartford veterans who gave their lives during that conflict are engraved on the Wall of Peace.
For more information
The American Legion Post 96 of West Hartford has been serving veterans and the community since 1922 and is open to all military veterans who have served honorably and military personnel currently on active duty. Further information is available at www.post96.org or by contacting the Post at Hayes-Velhage Post 96, P.O. Box 370160, West Hartford, CT 06137-0160, or by phone at 860-233-9029.
For more information about flag planting, contact Renee McCue at [email protected] or 860-561-7521.
Anyone who has a relative or friend buried at Fairview Cemetery whose grave is not properly identified as that of a veteran should contact the cemetery office at 860-561-8136 so that a flag can be placed there.
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