Letter: Veteran questions why the low turnout at vigil

To the editor,

Last Saturday an event took place on the Naugatuck Green which was publicized in both local newspapers, on radio, with posters placed around town, a sign by the Naugatuck firehouse, e-mails, and word of mouth for at least the past 60 days. There were no balloons, clowns, food vendors, floats or bands.

It was a solemn event called a POW/MIA vigil.  For those who do not know the meaning of these acronyms, they stand for prisoner of war/missing in action. These are the men and women of our military who gave their all for their country. They are all presumed to have died serving America. The purpose of these vigils is to keep the issue alive in Washington D.C. to make sure our government never ceases to find out what happened to each and every one of them. Many of our military gave their lives and their remains were brought home for proper burial. The families of POWs and MIAs have a right to know with certainty that their loved ones are in fact gone so they can have closure and properly mourn them and bury their remains if available.

We as Americans can never forget these heroes.

I have lived in Naugatuck all my life, except for eight years in the Air Force, one of those years in Vietnam. This has always been a patriotic town. What happened last Saturday? Where were our citizens between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.?

Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades attract huge crowds, and rightly so. Why not an event like this vigil? A lot of hard work by members of the Naugatuck Veterans Council and members of the Connecticut Veterans Committee of Milford and West Haven goes into an event like this each year. How disheartening it is when you only see less than 100 people show up, and about one third of them were from out of town. Why are the parents not bringing their school children to have them learn from what they will see and hear, and answer their questions like, “Why are those people in cages with their hands and feet chained together and wearing blindfolds?” Referring to the volunteer mock prisoners — among them a 90-year-old World War II vet, a sister of an Air Force MIA lost in Laos over 50 years ago, and young high school volunteers from the Junior Air Force ROTC at Naugatuck High school.

Where are all of the veterans in town who, more than anyone, should be paying their respect?  Where the heck was everybody?

I hope that each and every one who reads this letter stops to think for a moment about what they just read. I know everyone cannot attend because of a myriad of different reasons.  However, with a population of around 35,000, 100 attending is simply pathetic.

The vigil next year is scheduled for Saturday, June 17, the day before Father’s Day. Mark the date on your calendar now. Tell others about it. Spread the word. God help all of us if we forget about these brave men and women. Bring them home.

Bob Genovese