NAUGATUCK — On a cold, overcast afternoon, U. S. Air Force Master Sgt. David Bedner stood on the Naugatuck Green in front of veterans, local and state officials, and residents to remind everyone why America celebrates Veterans Day.
“Whenever and wherever their service took place [veterans have] earned our nation’s highest respect for selfless service to our great nation. They stood ready, if duty required it, to fight and die for our country,” Bedner said. “To every veteran this nation owes a debt we can’t possibly discharge, but we will always acknowledge. On this important day of reflection and appreciation, let us express individual gratitude to all the veterans of the United States Armed Forces.”
Bedner was the keynote speaker during Naugatuck’s annual Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11.
Veterans come from every walk of life, Bedner said.
“Approximately 25 million of our fellow citizens once carried the title of marine, solider, airman, sailor, coast guardsman, national guardsman, merchant mariner, and now they carry the title of veteran. We know them as our neighbors and our friends, our colleagues and our family members. They make us proud to be Americans,” Bedner said.
Bedner has served as a liaison between the Air Force and civilian agencies in the aerospace field and was the primary advisor to the commander on the welfare, effective utilization, training, career progression, discipline and organizational performance of over 400 personnel at the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
Currently, Bedner works as the aerospace science instructor for the Air Force Junior ROTC at Naugatuck High School.
Bedner said the cadets he works with at the high school don’t limit Veterans Day to one day. The cadets recognizes Veterans Day for a full week including events and speakers.
“The Air Force Junior ROTC cadets learn a great deal from the oral histories of our veterans and emulate dependability, moral and physical strength, and unselfishness. The very ideal of good citizenship,” Bedner said.
Mayor Robert Mezzo, whose last day in office was Tuesday, said he’s proud of the Naugatuck community for many reasons, but two very important ones are the patriotism of its people and the veterans who made the borough the community it is today.
“They (veterans) made sacrifices, first of all, by sacrificing their time to serve this country. They put themselves in harm’s way to sacrifice time from their families, to go overseas, to say ‘I am willing to put down my life for this great country.’ No one could blame them if they said that’s enough. But these group of veterans in the borough of Naugatuck, they came back to this community and they made it what it is. They’ve served in a variety of capacities in public service, in community service, in business,” Mezzo said. “Our veterans have supported this community in so many ways, it is just tremendously humbling and I want to thank them.”
U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) called Naugatuck’s Veterans Day ceremony one of the “best attended, most enthusiastic Veterans Day ceremonies across the state.”
“This cover of freedom and security we all live under here in the United States gets taken for granted by far too many. That’s why it is wonderful to see so many children here today, to see Boy Scouts, to see members of the band, to see members of the flag corps, to understand that we are, here in Naugatuck, passing along the sacrifice that has been made by so few to protect the rest of us. You get it here in Naugatuck,” Murphy said.
Bedner said the actions of veterans live on through the actions of the current service members.
“Well over two centuries have passed since George Washington first took command over the continental army, yet we can see today the same virtues that won this nation its independence and have safeguarded our country despite all the challenges of history. The men and women who wear the uniform today follow in a long, honorable, unbroken tradition of service passed down to them by our veterans,” Bedner said.