Vlasto: A call to reinvent Stamford, CT salute to veterans

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Stamford Advocate Article, Published 6:19 pm, Thursday, April 17, 2014

It's time for Stamford, CT to honor all our veterans with dignity

Over the past 20 years, the City of Stamford has failed to honor our veterans with respect and hope. They are true patriots and they bring honor to all those who served.

The best example is the Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades, which are the responsibility of the Patriotic and Special Events Commission.

Since 2008, the average number of spectators on Stamford sidewalks waving flags is around 500 for both the Memorial and Veterans Day parades. There is video proof of this low turnout. Ask the veterans and you will be told that the New Canaan parade the next day draws three or four times more spectators than Stamford. One of the best examples of a well-orchestrated event is the Veterans Parade held in Raritan, N.J., just across the Hudson River, a town of about 7,000. It is one of largest events in America, honoring veterans and hometown hero John Basilone. Mr. Basilone was the first U.S. Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II for his heroism on Guadalcanal. He was later killed on Iwo Jima. It has been reported that more than 10,000 attend the parade each year. Stamford should consult the Raritan folks who know how to put on a parade and to honor all veterans, year after year.

Another example of the city's failure to honor veterans is the city's new website. A search of the site in recent days revealed that Veterans Park does not exist. In my role as executive director of the Homer L.Wise memorial committee, I searched the site in vain for a reference or photograph of the statue of World War II Medal of Honor recipient Homer Wise dedicated Memorial Day 2013, in Veterans Park.

Last November, after the Veterans Day Parade, the Patriotic and Special Events Commission held a wreath presentation about 25 feet from the statue of Homer Wise and yet not one of the speakers mentioned Stamford's greatest war hero.

Another example of slights to other veterans organizations was the remodeling of the veterans wall two years ago in the lobby of the Government Center. All agreed the wall was in need of a new look. The city assigned the job to the Patriotic and Special Events Commission. Other veterans were not consulted. The new section is an insult.

It is clear the commission should be reorganized. The commission has operated illegally for many years because the city charter requires that three of the five commissioners be veterans. Currently only one is a veteran.

Recently, The Advocate published an excellent report by Kate King "Where to cut in Stamford's budget?" (April 6). A recommendation worth considering would be to consolidate all commissions related to the arts, music, events (including parades) into one cultural arts commission. Retain the services of a person with a background in event planning and the arts as chairman at $1 a year. Establish a 501c3 tax exempt organization using private funds to fund the commission. The city will save money and at the same time and put forth a comprehensive plan to honor our veterans and feature the arts in our community.

Memorial Day 2014 is approaching. Why should we suffer from another boring, poorly planned parade and post-parade ceremony? The highlight of the post-parade ceremony is a recording of Kate Smith singing "God Bless America." Surely we can do a lot better!

It's time for bold decisions to celebrate the arts in a fashion to make the City of Stamford proud.

James S. Vlasto is executive director of the Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee and a member of VFW Post 9617.

0 Responses to "Vlasto: A call to reinvent Stamford, CT salute to veterans":

Copyright 2011 The Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee, Inc.