NAUGATUCK — John Julian had a message for those gathered on the Naugatuck Green on Veterans Day: thank a veteran.
“Veterans have navigated through dense jungles while others say it is too dangerous. Veterans have sailed vast oceans while others take no action. Veterans have been wearing uniforms and performing their jobs as soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines for hundreds of years. And during that time they have asked for nothing in return,” Julian said.
Julian, a Naugatuck police Officer, is a veteran of the Marine Corps and a member Army National Guard. He was the keynote speaker during the borough’s annual Veterans Day ceremony, which is hosted by the Naugatuck Veterans Council, on Nov. 11.
Julian, 37, joined the Marines in 1997 immediately after graduating high school. After his service in the Marines, Julian joined the Army National Guard in 2005 and is currently a staff sergeant. He served combat tours in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2010.
During his 16 years in the service, Julian has received a number of medals, including the Marine Corps’ and Army’s Good Conduct Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, and the Purple Heart.
As Julian looked over the crowd gathered on the Green, he said veterans make sacrifices proudly to serve their country.
“Veterans have sacrificed time with families, jobs, and their very own lives. Yet they do it while pushing forward with their head held high,” Julian said.
Why do veterans do it, Julian rhetorically asked.
“They do it for their families, they do it for their friends, and they do it so others can live the lives they live right now. They do it for freedom and they do it for their country,” Julian said.
Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess spoke of the sacrifices veterans made for their country.
“When I think of Veterans Day I am reminded of the phrase ‘all gave some, some gave all.’ This phrase is recognized as a truth that is recognized by all the veterans and all the patriotic citizens of the Borough of Naugatuck,” Hess said.
Hess said veterans come home from their service changed, sometimes by an injury and sometimes by post-traumatic stress disorder, which can lead to suicide in some cases.
“It’s not an easy journey for our veterans as they seek to overcome the challenges they face as a result of their service,” Hess said.
Julian echoed Hess’ comments and encouraged people to help veterans whenever possible.
“Twenty two veterans commit suicide every day. If a veteran ever reaches out to you, please reach back and help them in any way,” Julian said.
Julian urged everyone gathered on the Green to turn to a veteran and thank them.
“So please, at this time, look at that veteran, shake their hand, and say ‘thank you,’ because these two words mean more than you ever know,” Julian said.