A century after WWI ended, state honors veterans of that and other wars
NORWALK — November 1918 marked not only the end of World War I in Europe. The armistice led to the annual event now known as Veterans Day and the foundation of the American Legion, including the Frank C. Godfrey Post 12 in Norwalk.
Army Lt. Frank C. Godfrey, of Norwalk, fought in the Great War, as it was called at the time, but never made it home. He was killed in action at Chateau- Thierry, France, on Aug. 30, 1918, as he led an assault on German machine gun nests. He
is buried at Oise- Aisne American Cemetery in Seringes- et- Nesles.
“It’s incredibly important that we not forget the contributions of all veterans, but especially those from World War I because there are no surviving members to tell their story firsthand,” said retired U. S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrery R. DeWitt, past historian and finance officer for Post 12 and a life member of the Mulvoy- Tarlov- Aquino Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 603. “That leaves the public to find the answers through books and media sources. As a society, we can’t forget the sacrifices made and we need to continue to honor veterans from all wars.”
World War I, a four- year global conflict that left more than 16 million people dead, ended at 11 a. m. on Nov. 11, 1918. A century later, organizations in Norwalk and elsewhere are honoring their veterans with local events.
At 2 p. m. Saturday, historian Richard Franklin Donohue will speak about World War I memorials of Connecticut during at lecture at Mill Hill Historic Park at 2 East Wall St. Admission is free for veterans and active military members, and $ 5 for others.
From 9: 30 to 11 a. m. Sunday, the Norwalk Veterans Memorial Committee will hold its 2018 Veterans Day Ceremony at Norwalk Concert Hall, 125 East Ave. Dewitt, committee secretary, will be the guest speaker.
At 1: 30 p. m. Sunday, the Westport Veterans Council will hold its 2018 Veterans Day program at Westport Town Hall Auditorium, 110 Myrtle Ave. Staples High School senior Jack Nealon will be the guest speaker.
At 5 p. m. Nov. 18, American Legion Post 12 will hold a Veterans Recognition Dinner at its headquarters at 60 County St. in Norwalk. Lt. Col. Mike Zacchea, director and founder of the University of Connecticut’s Entrepreneur Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities, will be the guest speaker.
At the Post 12 headquarters hangs a portrait of World War I veteran Capt. John Keogh Sr., the first commander of the post. Keogh served in the Quartermaster Corps and was deployed to France in 1918. An attorney and judge, he had left his work to volunteer for service at age 46. While his military service record indicates he was born in 1873, his actual birth year was 1871, said grandson Stephen Keogh, an attorney in Norwalk.
“It appears that he may have lied about his age to qualify for service,” Stephen Keogh said. “It speaks volumes of the spirit of patriotism and desire for service that accompanied the country’s entry into the Great War that a middle- aged lawyer, married with children and a thriving law practice, would set that all aside to go off to war.”
Keogh said he has been told that his grandfather was “something of a leader among Norwalk’s World War I veterans, perhaps in part due to his age and position.” After returning from the war, Keogh Sr. resumed practicing law and continued to be involved in community affairs into the 1950s. He died in 1960.
Armistice Day, first held in November 1919 to commemorate the end of World War I the year before, was renamed Veterans Day in 1954. By then, the conflict which British author H. G. Wells called “The War That
“It speaks volumes of the spirit of patriotism and desire for service that accompanied the country’s entry into the Great War that a middle- aged lawyer, married with children and a thriving law practice, would set that all aside to go off to war.” Stephen Keogh
Will End War,” had been eclipsed by World War II.
“That was the war to end all wars,” Leo Motyka, past commander of Post 12 and senior vice commander at the VFW, said of World War I. “And you know what happened after that. A wise man once said, if we don’t learn from history, we’re doomed to repeat it.”
In May 2019 American Legion Post 12 will honor Keogh as its Veteran of the Month. In June 2019, the post will celebrate its 100th anniversary by honoring Godfrey as its Veteran of the Month.
Capt. John Keogh, of Norwalk.
A cross marks the grave of U. S. Army Lt. Frank C. Godfrey, of Norwalk, at Oise- Aisne American Cemetery in Seringes- et- Nesles, France. Godfrey was killed in action at Chateau- Thierry, France, on Aug. 30, 1918, as he led an assault on German machine gun nests.