Milford monuments honor service to country

Silent but watchful stand two monuments on Milford’s Green, homage to the many men and women who have served their country to preserve freedom.

On the southern end of Milford’s Green stands the Korea-Vietnam monument, created by artist-sculptor John J. Blair and dedicated Nov. 9, 1986. The Founding Committee for this tribute 29 years ago consisted of James W. Broatch and William A. Carlson Jr., both Vietnam veterans, and Eric P. Muth and Eleanore Myers. Sitting at a table, pen and paper before them, this group decided to begin a project that would, it was hoped, be a visible sign of the bravery and dedication of men and women caught up in two wars. Whether these servicemen and women returned to their families or became wounded or lost their lives, there had to be a way to remember them always, the committee leaders determined.

A committee was established and the monument began to seem a possibility. Many organizations, businesses, schools, and residents contributed so this dream would become a reality.

The National Park Service donated two concrete blocks for the base of the monument, and Carlson coordinated the project. Rock bands held concerts, an auto show donated proceeds, dances were held. James Beard applied the concrete work, Tom Colucci donated the foundation, and the rigging, transportation and installation of the bronze figures were offered by Grich Industries.

Then Mayor Alberta Jagoe and the city departments, boards and commissions provided their support and cooperation to the project.

Twenty years later, another monument committee was established with the thought of placing a World War II memorial on the north end of Milford’s Green. A total of $70,000 was needed to begin and complete this dream.

This Monument Committee was led by a host of people, including William J. Moffet, president, Leopold Bisson, Burt Bond, Wayne Carson, Mario Ditroia, Ernest DuBois, Don Elliott, Ed Filanowski, George Frye, Cornelius Heyse Jr., Alan Jepson, Mike Kivic, Dayle Leyland, George J. Martelon, Elvera McGuide, Daniel T. Meisenheimer Jr., Jim Merrill, Eleanore Myers, Harold Murray, Peter Penkala, John Poole, Siegmund (Ziggy) Skibek, Winthrop Smith, Salvatore Vitale, Joseph Von Dietsch, Marcus White, and Don Wright.

Once again, Milford residents pitched in, buying T-shirts, attending dances and offering donations. “Ziggy” Skibek placed coffee cans in 35 stores seeking donations. The public came through once again, dropping coins, filling the containers so often that “Ziggy” had to re-visit these businesses often to empty the cans. More than $10,000 was raised in this manner. Ziggy was a World War II veteran with a leg injury but so dedicated he pulled through the project with all the energy he could muster.

The funds were raised, sculptor John Blair was contracted and the dream began to unfold. There were many committee meetings to decide how many figures would be placed on the monument. Should a woman be considered? What was she to wear? What about the pilot — should he have the parachute pack? What direction should the figures face? And so on. All had to be militarily correct.

“Take a moment, there’s adequate parking space by the Green, pull over and park,” one committee member said in a press release recently. “Walk over to these monuments, stand silently for a minute or two. You will experience a sensation of awe, respect and pride. Many of the people responsible for these memorials are no longer with us, but when you visit these monuments you will appreciate their efforts to memorialize our veterans.”
City’s Veterans Day events
Nov. 8: The City of Milford will host a number of Veterans Day events on Sunday, Nov. 8. The Veterans Day Parade will be at 2 p.m. All units and marchers will be asked to assemble at the Daniel Wasson Field parking lot at 1.

A Cpl. Jordan Pierson dedication will follow the parade and speakers: the dedication will take place at the Memorial Flagpole.

The Milford Concert Band, under the direction of Duane Berge, will present “Veterans in the Community” in conjunction with the City of Milford’s Office of the Mayor on Sunday, Nov. 8, at Milford City Hall, 110 River St.

The concert will take place following the Milford’s Veterans Day parade at 3 p.m. Several members of the Milford Concert Band are military veterans.

Nov. 9: There will be a tribute to Milford’s veterans on Monday, Nov. 9, at noon at the Milford Senior Center, 9 Jepson Drive. All Milford veterans and a guest are invited to attend. RSVP by Friday, Nov. 6, to Amanda Berry, program director at the center, 203-877-5131.

Nov. 11: The city of Milford’s Veterans Day Wreath Laying Ceremony will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 11, in front of City Hall at 10:45 a.m. All are invited to attend the short, but moving ceremony.

Organizations that would like to participate may call Russ Edwards at 203-876-0914 for more information.