NAUGATUCK — It started with a new flag and took off from there.
When Naugatuck High School got a new star-spangled banner last year, the alumni association decided to honor two graduates active in veterans’ affairs as part of the flag-raising ceremony.
Then the Naugatuck High School Alumni Association, normally known for giving college scholarships to graduating seniors, decided to make the award a tradition.
“Why don’t we go a step further and start honoring some of the veterans?” said Theresa Swanson, the group’s president.
Five new recipients will be honored Nov. 9 with the Robert L. Genovese Patriotism Award. Winners are chosen by a committee for their patriotism and service to the borough.
This year’s winners are John K. McSherry, class of 1937; Joseph R. Healy and Robert Stauffer, class of 1947; and Manuel and William Matos, twin brothers from the class of 1951.
McSherry served in the U.S. Army and is the father of Kevin McSherry, an attorney active in the Democratic Party.
Healy served in the U.S. Coast Guard and was a longtime chairman of the Park Commission. He has also been involved in the Naugatuck Hall of Fame, the junior Chamber of Commerce, the Elks Lodge and Little PAL basketball.
He has 10 children, including Capt. Vincent Healy of the Naugatuck Fire Department.
Stauffer served in the U.S. Air Force and volunteered in the borough as a youth sports coach and a member of local government boards.
The Matos twins served in the Air Force and are both active in veterans’ organizations.
This will be the first year the award has been named after Genovese.
“He is involved in so many veterans’ groups,” Swanson said. “Not only the ones in Naugatuck.”
Genovese, a 1960 graduate who subsequently served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, was inducted four years ago into the State of Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame. He has worked as a state veterans service officer and has been a member of nine different area veterans’ groups. He is also a member of the Elks Lodge, Knights of Columbus and the board of directors for the borough’s Human Resource Development agency.
“It’s just an honor for me to have an award that’s named after me,” Genovese said. “I’m not even dead yet.”
The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. and be held at Veterans Field, near the greyhound statue, at the high school. Members of all local veterans’ and civic organizations, as well as the general public, are invited to attend the ceremony. Due to the lack of seating at the monument site, it is advisable for those attending who need to sit, to bring a folding chair. For those with disabilities, a golf cart will be available to transport them from the parking lot to the monument site. In the event of rain, a ceremony will be held under cover at the schools main entrance. For more information, call Swanson at (203) 729-1254.