Con­necti­cut re­mem­bers

A cen­tury af­ter WWI ended, state honors veter­ans of that and other wars

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Robert Koch

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.

Con­tributed photo

Capt. John Keogh, of Norwalk.

Con­tributed photo

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.

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