Post 17 honors ‘unsung heroes’

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NAUGATUCK — American Legion Post 17 presented spouses of deceased Vietnam veterans Saturday with Certificates of Honor and lapel pins to recognize and thank the spouses, who Post members described as “the often unsung heroes,” for their contributions.

Post 17’s commemorative partnership team honored 10 local spouses of deceased veterans at the event.

“We often overlook the unheralded sacrifices of military families,” said Frank Edmonds Jr., chairman of the commemorative partnership team. “Military families are the definition of resiliency.”

Edmonds, who served in the Air Force from 1960 to 1980, said those who serve often miss out on important family milestone like proms or Little League games, but their families and spouses often give up dreams and move from base to base or country to country to support them.

“I don’t believe the public really knows what families really go through,” Edmonds said.

Linda Kazimir of Naugatuck was one of the 10 honorees at Saturday’s event. She said her husband Edward served in the Vietnam War and died in 2016.

Kazimir said her husband served as a Marine for about five months before returning wounded to the states.

“He had piece of metal in his back and shoulder; and after a while they would come to the surface and we would pick them out,” she said.

Kazimir said her husband also returned home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression. She remembered one night visiting an amusement park with him and when fireworks went off, “he went running.” Loud noises would startle him; he was very jumpy, she said.

She said he got better over the years, mainly through the help he received from fellow veterans in the VFW.

Despite his ailments, her husband remained loving and caring, Kazimir said.

Kazimir’s daughter Terri Kelly said, “He had a deep caring for people, which would make everyone feel like they were family.”

Her sister Kate Riva agreed, adding, “He’s the glue that kept us together.”

Kazimir and her daughters said Edward was a patriotic man who loved his country and felt he had to do his duty to his country.

Edmonds said similar events took place across the nation on Veterans Day when about 1,600 spouses were honored. He hopes to expand the event.

To gather Saturday’s honorees, Edmonds said the committee sent out 13 letters to spouses and received 12 responses.

Honorees were called individually, escorted by a Post member to the podium and presented with a certificate, a lapel pin and a red rose.

Naugatuck resident Sharon Finnemore attended Saturday’s event with her husband Ron, who served in the Army from 1966 to 1968 and was on standby for four more years.

Finnemore said she would like to see more events honoring veterans and their families.

“I think this was beautiful, to let them know that their husbands were appreciated,” Finnemore said. “People need to know that these guys put their lives on the line so they can have what they have today.”