By KAITLYN NAPLES
This year 13 men and women who are graduating high school have signed up to enter into the nations Armed Forces. For the third year in a row, the Bristol Veterans’ Council will be having its Salute Dinner to honor and recognize these individuals and the choice they have made to serve their country.
“It’s a big choice they are making,” said Gamache, who spent 20 years serving in the military.
Gamache said the council realized three years ago there weren’t any official city events that recognized those individuals who were putting their lives on the line for others.
After past dinners since the event was launched, Gamache has received positive feedback from the students and their parents. The parents have said they have never been more proud of their children.
“That’s the idea (of the evening),” Gamache said. “This is why we hold this annual event,” which has become one of the veterans council’s signature events.
The Salute Dinner will be held on Saturday, May 4 at Nuchies Restaurant in Forestville. The evening will be attended by city and
state representatives, as well as military officials. Command Chief Master Sergeant Michael Thorpe from the United States Air Force will be the guest speaker.
The youths each receive a plaque, a red, white, and a blue tassel to wear with their caps at graduation, and a framed citation from and signed by the entire state legislative delegation from Bristol, and also speaker of the house and the president pro tem of the senate.
“We want to let these young people know that they have a lot of support from the city of Bristol now, and in the future,” Gamache said, adding that everyone who attends the evening knows the decision these students have made is not a small one, “but a huge commitment.”
The dinner will be held May 4 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the door or from Tim Gamache, (860) 977-2152. Guests are asked to R.S.V.P. no later than Friday, April 5 to either Tim, or Stan at (860) 589-7942. Checks should be made out to Bristol Veterans Council c/o Salute Dinner, and sent to P.O. Box 2634, Bristol, CT 06010. The students invited to the dinner are free, along with two of their guests.
The Salute Dinner falls on Memorial Day weekend every year, and this year the Bristol Veterans’ Council will be hosting events similar to last year. Gamache said the annual parade will begin at 9 a.m. on Memorial Day, Monday May 6, followed by a ceremony on the south side, or memorial side, of Memorial Boulevard. At this ceremony, names of veterans who have passed away in the last year will be read, and the new bridge behind the Korean War monument will be officially opened with a ceremony as well. Gamache said he anticipates a special dinner at the American Legion, and also a concert in the afternoon by the Bristol Brass and Wind Ensemble.
The Balloons over Bristol are making a comeback also this year, except they’ll be visiting on Memorial Day weekend. There will be a balloon glow on Saturday evening at dusk, and there will be two lift-offs, on at 6 a.m. on Sunday, and one at 6 p.m. The committee has also scheduled tethered balloon rides, for $5, from 4 to 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. The proceeds from the tethered rides will go towards the food pantry at Zion Lutheran Church. Also, the 94th Army Band to perform on Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m.
There will also be a parade and ceremony in Forestville on Memorial Day. There will be an observance at Quinlan Park in Forestville, on the corner of Central Street and Broad Street. The Forestville Memorial Day parade will begin at noon, and start on Broad Street. In the past, the Forestville parade has drawn in over 2,000 spectators.
By KAITLYN NAPLES