In Honor of Our Veterans

On Veterans Day, we celebrate and honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. This year, the Norwalk Public Library will host a live virtual program, “In Honor of Our Veterans,” on Thursday, November 12, at 6:30 p.m., on Zoom. To register for this program, please contact Cynde Bloom Lahey, Director of Library Information Services, at

Please join us for presentations by Kevin M. Callahan, Norwalk resident and author of Brothers in Arms: Remembering Brothers Buried Side by Side in American World War II Cemeteries, and Jeffrey DeWitt, a 26-year United States Air Force veteran, who retired in the rank of Chief Master Sergeant, the top 1% of all enlisted grades. Norwalk media consultant Wendy Bromely Bodden will moderate the program. A question and answer session will follow the presentation. Submit questions in advance by sending them along with your registration to Cynde Lahey, or type them into the chat feature during the program. Full Details

Purple Heart & Purple Heart City

On January 14, 2020 an initial inquiry was made by the Norwalk Military & Veterans Liaison Committee (MVLC) about how a city gets designated a "Purple Heart City". I had heard of other cities receiving that designation and even the Bridgeport Sound Tigers hockey team has that designation. With Norwalk's long history of love and respect for veterans, this seemed like the perfect honor to our veterans and for our residents.

The goal for the committee was to identify the recipients with ties to Norwalk and then set up an event on National Purple Heart Day, August 7, 2020, where we would recognize recipients and families. When the list was near completion, we would then enroll those who weren't already enrolled in the National Purple Heart Museum Roll of Honor. This was to have coincided with The Wall That Heals, a 3/4 scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial, being in Norwalk that same weekend. That event was canceled due to the pandemic, but the committee was full speed ahead to prepare for the Purple Heart event.

As rules for mass gatherings evolved, we quickly realized we would need to have the event outdoors or indoors in a religious setting. I approached Reverend Artie Kassimis of the Word Alive Bible Church on West Avenue who is also one of the chaplains for the Norwalk Police Department, and asked if it would be alright to hold the event in his church. After meeting with Reverend Kassimis and Dan Eddinger, Commander of the Connecticut Military Order of the Purple Heart on February 6, 2020, it was decided that the church would be the perfect place. We appreciate Artie's gracious offer and are forever grateful.

After much research and communication with recipients and descendants of recipients, a list began to form. In total, there are 117 known recipients. There are still a few more to be added to the list that didn't make the deadline to be added to the event. 99 of the 117 were awarded the medal posthumously. They are all heroes. Those that I spoke with are too humble to accept the label "hero", but I use it freely as a testament to their service and sacrifice.

On August 7, 2020 the event was held at 5:00 p.m. and was well attended. This was a closed event in order to give families a place to tell their stories with others like them. The leaders of the Norwalk American Legion, VFW, and Marine Corps League also attended, as did Mayor Rilling and his wife Lucia. As each name in the presentation was announced, if there was a family member in attendance, a microphone was brought to them so they could share their thoughts about their loved one's service. After introducing the honorees, a proclamation was read naming August 7, 2020, Purple Heart Day in Norwalk. In addition, the Connecticut Military Order of the Purple Heart gave Mayor Rilling a plaque officially designating Norwalk a "Purple Heart City" which will hang in City Hall.

The event was recorded on video. It is our pleasure to bring that event to you through the YouTube link below. Many of you receiving this e-mail weren't able to attend. I thank you for considering it, and fully understand those that preferred to stay home due to the pandemic, distance, or the Hurricane Isaias damage.

See the attachments for the program and list of all the names that were available at the event. If you would like to print a copy, set up your printer to "print on both sides", and "flip on short edge", which should result in one page front and back.

Many thanks to those who helped, especially the families whose generosity with pictures and stories, was exceptional. A web page was set up with a short bio on each honoree. That web page can be seen at, then click the link in the menu at the top of the page.

The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is undergoing a $17M renovation. The staff there have been great to work with. Their web page is here: Click on "Roll of Honor" at the top of the page.

Lastly, my deepest respect and thanks to the Commander of the Connecticut Military Order of the Purple Heart, Dan Eddinger, Major, US Army (retired). Without you, none of this would be possible.

Saving the best for last, the video can be seen here:

Jeff DeWitt, CMSgt, USAF (retired)
Chairman, Advisory - Military & Veterans Liaison Committee
Norwalk, Connecticut

Purple Heart -- Event Program (This event was held on August 7, 2020)

List of Purple Heart Medal Recipients

A Reference Guide of Norwalk Residents Who Died During Wartime.  by Jeff DeWitt, CMSgt, USAF (retired)

War Veterans from Norwalk (by the war in which they served)

Who are these people on these plaques? by Jeff DeWitt, CMSgt, USAF (retired)
This article honors the Norwalk servicemen who died in WWI