A Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony in Milford on Sunday honored members of the military who gave their lives to preserve our freedoms.

The ceremony was held during rain showers at the World War Memorial Monument in front of Milford City Hall. Present were dozens of elected officials, veterans (including six World War II veterans), family members and community residents.

“Rain or shine, this ceremony is always a great celebration of our nation’s heroes,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. “I am so grateful to Milford for reminding us about what’s important about Memorial Day, which is to honor our fallen men and women who sacrificed all for this country. We owe our freedoms to the great heroes whom we celebrate today.”

Observances began with the Pledge of Allegiance, the Star Spangled Banner perfomed by Milford’s Fife and Drum Band, and invocation by Larry Carter of American Legion Post #96.

“May we never forget those who made the supreme sacrifice to secure for our nation the blessings of life, liberty and justice for all,” Carter said. “May our observance be a timely reminder that our freedom was purchased at a high cost and should not be taken for granted. Bless the families and the friends of those we honor today and bless the veterans who have come with memories, stories and tears to enrich this day.”

Blumenthal thanked the City of Milford, Mayor Ben Blake, Veteran Service Organizations and all in attendance, “on a day when other events are being cancelled, to show what’s really important about this holiday, about America and about being an American. This ceremony epitomizes what is important, we gather here to remember and commemorate the heroes that sacrificed all, heroes that gave all, so that we would have all that is important about America, our freedom, our liberty, our way of life. Those freedoms that are never free.”

The “Doughboy” World War Monument was dedicated in 1928 to honor the residents who served in the World War (I). A plaque on the front face of the monument lists 22 residents who died during the war and markers on the sides of the monument base lists the hundreds of names of residents who served.

“Today we pay tribute to the sacrifices of veterans, especially those fallen heroes on Memorial Day,” said Milford Mayor Ben Blake. “As we are starting the unofficial start of summer, we do take a moment to pause at solemn remembrances like this one. God Bless our veterans and God Bless the United States of America.”

“I’m here to say thanks for the ultimate sacrifice these people made for us, it’s the least you can do is to remember them,” said Frank Mitchals, Milford Elks 1589. Vietnam Veteran Henry Lepri, vice president of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) 251 said, “Memorial Day means a lot to me because I lost a lot of friends over there and have friends that are dying now with different infections from there. The whole United States remembers today. I was stationed in Saigon and Long Binh, I was Military Police and served from 1967-1970.”

The VVA Treasurer Bob Chechoski, who served in Cambodia and two locations in Vietnam (1967-1969) Airborne Radio added, “I just hope that everybody remembers what this day is about. Its not about the living, it’s about the ones that didn’t come home and the families that are suffering because of it. As long as people remember, this is not a day for picnics and holidays, remember what this day is actually created for.”

“Today is a sorrowful day, one that should be held in everyone’s heart,” said James Killeen, who served in Vietnam from 1968-1969, First Infantry Division, First Battalion. “It was nice to see young people here today, the next generation, supporting this. I appreciate the fact that I can be here.”

“I’m thinking of all the veterans that sacrificed and gave their all for our country,” said Frank Figerle, Sr. vice Commander at Post 7788 in Devon who served in the Vietnam Infantry from 1971-1973. “It’s a special moment and an honor to be here and to put the wreaths out.”

“To everyone here and to all the people who are not here, to our veterans, to their loved ones, to our patriotic citizens, we are keeping a vow. And that vow is that we will never forget,” said Tom Flowers, chairman of the Milford Veterans Ceremony and Parade Commission. Flowers is a 27-year Air Force Veteran. He served for 27 years (1966-1993) and retired as a Chief Master Sergeant.