Veterans Day: Ridgefield honors 100th anniversary of World War I
With thoughtful words, patriotic songs, taps and gun salute, Ridgefielders led by two American Legion Commanders — former Commander Bob Tulipani and current Commander George Besse — honored Veterans Day 2018, marking the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. About 150 people turned out for the ceremony.
“Some 48 million men and women have served our country since its founding,” said Commander Besse said, and today America is home to some 21.8 million veterans.
As the keynote speaker, Tulipani spoke of the American Legion’s founding in the aftermath of the First World War, with the backing of General John J. Pershing and President Woodrow Wilson.
Ridgefield’s own branch — the Everett Ray Seymour American Legion Post 78 — was founded Aug. 20, 1920, he said, named after the first Ridgefielder killed in combat in World War I.
In 1925, a war memorial was dedicated to all the Ridgefielders who’d fought and given their lives in the nation’s wars up until that time — The Revolution, the Civil War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War the Civil War and World War I.
Veterans from World War I formed “The Last Man’s Club,” meeting each year to share a meal. Each member had a small silver plate and goblet their meal would be served on, and after he passed away their place would be set with the silver plate and cup overturned.
Then came another war.
“In World War II, Ridgefield sent 600 men and women off to the war,” Tulipani said.
Tulipani recalled the quotation on the veterans memorial dedicated in 1965 after fundraising led by his father, Julius Tulipani of the American Legion and Fred Montanati of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, helped honor Ridgefield veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He quoted the words inscribed on the memorial: “In the mosaic of history, these precious jewels are set.”
“God bless America” Tulipani said in closing. “And as my wife always said, ‘May all of you have a rainbow day.’”