Let’s be honest, 2020 hasn’t exactly offered much reason for celebration these last nine months. And with the country seemingly more divided along political and cultural lines than at any time in the last half-century, it’s provided even fewer opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds and party affiliations to come together as one.
This Friday, Oct. 9, should be different.
Reaching one’s 100th birthday is a milestone. Having three residents reach that same milestone within a few days of each other is even more rare. Having all three be veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who served their country in World War II is every bit a reason to bring out the flags and the parades to celebrate.
And that’s exactly what Cheshire plans to do for three of its most honored residents on Friday. Florence Bryant, Irv Daubert, and Ralph Rowland are known to many around Cheshire. They have been actively involved in veterans affairs and events, with Daubert and Rowland in particular counted as regular attendees at everything from the Memorial Day Parade to the wreath laying ceremony that occurs a few days prior. All three have been celebrated in the past, but this time the Town gets to celebrate each for both their longevity and their service.
It was 78 years ago that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, drawing the United States into a war that had been raging for more than two years already. Being now approximately eight decades removed from that conflict, it can be easy to look back on it, see the outcome, and assume victory for the Allies had always been in the cards. But of course, the future looked far less certain at the time, when American soldiers began shipping out to battlefields in Europe and the Pacific.
Bryant, Daubert and Rowland, three young Americans with their entire lives ahead of them, had no idea what to expect. No one did. The men and women who served during World War II were, for the most part, new to war. Whether they would survive, and what the world would look like afterwards, was a great uncertainty.
Of course, we know who won the war, but the further away we get from events like D-Day and the Battle of Iwo Jima, the easier it is for us to forget that it was the sacrifices of ordinary men and women during that era, both abroad and at home, that made the difference. President Roosevelt and General Patton may have gotten the headlines, but it was the “boots on the ground” that did the manufacturing, the communicating, the tending to wounds, the fighting and the dying.
And when those ordinary Americans returned from war, they helped to make the country one of the most powerful the world has ever known.
In the past, Cheshire has recognized Bryant, Daubert and Rowland as part of larger celebrations for veterans in general. On Friday, the Town has a chance to say “thank you” specifically to these three individuals, all of whom have lived long and full lives. And by extension, the community will once again be saying “thank you” to veterans everywhere — something that can still bring all of us together in these difficult and divided times.