Waterbury Gold Star Mother and community group on a Memorial Day mission during COVID-19

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Memorial Day is very personal for Mary Kight. She’s a Gold Star Mother in Waterbury. Her son, Michael Aaron Kight, was killed when his helicopter crashed during the Vietnam War.

With many Memorial Day observances canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Knight and her friends with the Waterville Community Club are holding a small commemoration for all 530 Waterbury veterans who died serving their country in every American military conflict going back to the Revolution.

“If we don’t remember those who have fought to make this country where we could get together like this, if we don’t remember them, then shame on us,” she said. “And, it’s up to us to remind them [the public] what it’s all about.”

They’ll lay a wreath at a monument dedicated specifically to those heroes from the Waterville section of the city. A bigger ceremony can’t happen this year out of concern about spreading the coronavirus. So, a smaller group will gather wearing masks and standing at least 6 feet apart, per CDC guidelines.

“It’s important to keep history alive and to let our kids know,” said Martin Spring, Army veteran and President of the Waterville Community Club.

All of the traditional commemorations and ceremonies in Waterbury had to be canceled. So, the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee decided to take matters in their own hands, as well. You can see the results of their work in front of City Hall. Members created a dazzling “Field of Flags” — transforming the front lawn into a sea of patriotic red, white and blue.

They also had banners made of Waterburians who were killed in the Vietnam War. Those hang on City Hall above the wave of flags below. Knight’s son, Michael, is on one of those banners.

“It’s beautiful,” she said.

To keep everyone safe, they invite people to drive passed city hall on Grand Street this weekend and admire the display from their cars to minimize large numbers of people being in the area, possibly increasing the spread of the coronavirus.

No parades, no large community dinners. Still, the community is sending a message that the coronavirus will not wipe out the true meaning of this holiday weekend in Waterbury.

“We may not have the celebration that we normally have, but we’re putting together a little piece of our history right now.” said Michael Cervellino, a member of the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee.

“We show them how important it is to remember all our veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Spring said.

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