Coventry in Tolland County, Connecticut — The American Northeast (New England)
The Connecticut Veterans Memorial
On Saturday May 17, 2008, 33 years after the war ended veterans, families and onlookers gathered from all over the state for the unveiling of the first memorial honoring the 612 men from Connecticut who died in the Vietnam War. The ceremony for the Connecticut Vietnam Veterans Memorial took place in Patriots Park, Coventry with over a 1,000 people in attendance. In addition, Coventry Police closed Lake Street so over 400 motorcycles could ride to the park as an honor guard for the dedication.
The ceremony was elaborate, with local and state officials in attendance including U.S. Rep Joe Courtney, D-2nd, State Comptroller Nancy Wyman and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. “I believe America has neglected these fallen heroes” Blumenthal said. “This memorial, is a national treasure that reflects not only lives lost but also the nation's neglect of its veterans generally.” Elizabeth Woolf, Chairman of the Coventry Town Council added, “This is yet another step We take to bring closure to the war." Speeches carried a theme of apology. I’m sorry we didn't say welcome home.” "It will never ever happen
As the speeches went on, flags snapped in the wind, boats chugged on the choppy lake and stoic Morgan horse; carrying boots backward in the stirrups, stood with his handler. The First Company Governor's Foot Guard, the Coventry American Legion, and the Coventry High School Chorus as well as other organizations also took part in the event with a flyover by two military helicopters just prior to the unveiling of the memorial.
When the speakers had finished, the crowd moved across the street to the Veterans Green to observe the unveiling of the memorial. The Connecticut Vietnam Veterans Memorial was then unveiled by Jean Risley and Paul. Jatkowski. As they dropped the black silky cloth — a cloth she made herself, to reveal the fruition of her dream, a gleaning black granite wall depicting the names of the fallen from Connecticut, the crowd applauded and cheered. “Thank you Jean” a veteran yelled through the silence after the unveiling "You're welcome,” she said back.
That simple exchange did not capture the effort that went into making the memorial happen, but Risley was thanked repeatedly from the lectern by federal, state and local officials and of course by the many veterans in attendance.
"She formed a group called the Connecticut Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee to raise money to establish a memorial to the 612 Connecticut men who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. While there had been a lot of support for a state memorial over the decades, most proposals failed to take hold. In July of 2006 the Committee started in earnest to contact various attorneys, accountants and Coventry Town officials to determine the best way to proceed. At a Town Council meeting she presented her thoughts plans, and desires for a memorial. The Town: Council gave their full support for the project and voted unanimously to provide a site for the memorial. The Town Manager then researched town lands and provided a list of possible choices. The final decision was made on March 13, 2007 to place Connecticut Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Veterans Memorial Green in Coventry.
Donation letters were sent to various Veterans Organizations, businesses in Coventry and the general public, including those that had lost someone dear in Vietnam. The support was overwhelming, not only from those in Connecticut but from other states as well. Fundraisers, including a motorcycle run, dinners given by the American Legion Riders and the West Shore Middle School in Milford helped to raise enough funds to put a down payment on the memorial. As the year closed, the site for the memorial was being prepared.
The ground breaking ceremony in August of 2007 was attended by many and the support continued to grow. It is hoped that this Memorial will make the Veterans, Coventry and the State of Connecticut proud and remind future generations of their sacrifices. Jean Risley, and the entire committee would like to once again thank egeryone for their support and to welcome home our Vietnam Veterans.
Location. 41° 45.891′ N, 72° 18.396′ W. Marker is in Coventry, Connecticut, in Tolland County. Memorial is at the intersection of Lake Street and Cross Street, on the right when traveling north on Lake Street. Located in Veterans Green Memorial Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Coventry CT 06238, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Coventry Veterans Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Coventry Vietnam Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Korea (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Captain Nathan Hale (about 300 feet away); French Army Memorial (about 300 feet away); Patriot’s Park (about 400 feet away); Veterans Memorial Green (about 400 feet away); Nathan Hale Cemetery (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Coventry.
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Credits. This page was last revised on November 10, 2019. This page originally submitted on November 10, 2019, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 29 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 10, 2019, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.