WEB EXCLUSIVE - New London residents honor veterans

NEW LONDON - A large crowd gathered next to the library for a Memorial Day service, along with members of the local American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars posts. Speaker Richard Smothers was introduced by Legion Chaplain John Roeder, who said Smothers was a New London native and New London High School graduate.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

NEW LONDON — A large crowd gathered next to the library for a Memorial Day service, along with members of the local American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars posts.

Speaker Richard Smothers was introduced by Legion Chaplain John Roeder, who said Smothers was a New London native and New London High School graduate.

He said Smothers joined the Army in 1983 while still a junior in high school on a delayed-entry program and served in Korea. After leaving active duty, he joined the Ohio Army National Guard and was named NCO of the Year in 1998.

Smothers said although the purpose of Memorial Day is to honor all vets of all wars, he wanted to concentrate on “the greatest generation,” who fought in World War II and Korea.

“I want you to remember this day,” he said. “These veterans are the reason you are speaking English and can turn your dreams into reality. These are living heroes who fought the great fight.”

He said these veterans have kept the American Legion and the VFW alive through the years, and these organizations are, “a conduit connecting the past with the current.”

He urged the youth to “walk up to one of these heroes and shake their hand and know you are touching a piece of living history.”

Roeder pointed out the new memorial in honor of Tom Gopp, Gregg Heidrich, Claude Howard and Larry Walton, all of whom died in Vietnam.

The New London Junior High and High School bands conducted by Tracy Hanna participated in the ceremony, as did the Revs. Doug Lang and Cathy Ake and poppy girls Lillian and Cheyenne Denson.