Thea Digiammerino

Generations Reflect on Importance of Memorial Day

A ceremony at the Veterans Memorial in West Hartford gave a WWII veteran and a 13-year-old girl a chance to connect and reflect on the meaning of freedom and sacrifice.

World War II veteran John Danaher says he knows all too well why freedom isn’t free.

“I was very lucky. I was married when I went overseas so I was lucky to get back alive,” said Danaher.

Stationed in France for the US Army, Danaher served for six years and earned two bronze stars for his time in combat. He helped lay a wreath at the Veterans Memorial in West Hartford Monday.

“I think about the veterans, those who lost their lives, not able to partake in ceremonies such as this,” said Danaher.

Standing at attention for this solemn ceremony was a wise beyond her years 13-year-old named Alexandrea Chapman.

“I think you have to earn your freedom. You can’t just get your freedom based on what you look like and what you talk about and what you do for a living,” explained Chapman.

Chapman, a student at the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering in Windsor, knew early on she wanted to give back. She joined the Civil Air Patrol a civilian-based volunteer organization tied to the Air Force.

“She’s a brave little girl. I don’t have to worry about here. She knows what she’s doing. She knows what she wants,” said her mother, Gillian Chapman-Wilson of Windsor.

Chapman plans to be become a doctor and is interested in working for a veterans hospital.

“They’re doing so much for us. The least I can do is kind of take of them if they’re injured,” she said.

It’s a lesson she learned early on in life, thanks to the sacrifices of men like John Danaher.

“Memorial Day means to recognize those who have brought this equality upon us,” said Chapman.

“I think it’s not a sacrifice actually. I think it’s an honor,” said Danaher.

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