Posted on January 28, 2024
DANBURY — They were unwilling to wait a decade for the federal government to honor the sacrifices made by veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, so a group of local veterans made it their mission to install Connecticut’s first such memorial in Rogers Park.
“This monument is more than just a stone and steel structure,” said David Vieira of New Milford, a six-year Army veteran who served in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, and the president of the nonprofit veterans’ group, speaking of the $350,000 project. “It is a physical representation of the deepest gratitude we have for the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families.”
Vieira and fellow organizers of the Afghanistan Iraq Veterans War Memorial Fund planned to break ground Saturday in front of the Danbury War Memorial at the foot of Main Street with a VIP ceremony. The installation and unveiling of monument is planned for Memorial Day.
“We’re on track,” Vieira said on Friday about the Memorial Day dedication goal. “We still need to raise about $40,000 but hopefully we can do that with our spring gala coming up.”
The goal for Vieira, and fellow nonprofit organizers Juan Rivas, Juan Vasquez and Nelson Martins — all top officers in the Danbury VFW Post 149 who are part of a new generation of leadership — is to “create a lasting tribute to the thousands of Connecticut residents who served in these wars.”
“The monument will stand as a beacon of remembrance, honoring those who bravely fought for our nation’s freedom and as a testament to the enduring legacy of their service,” the group said in a prepared statement. “It is a place for quiet reflection, for shared stories, and for future generations to learn about the courage and dedication of those who served in these conflicts.’
Vieira, Rivas and Martins told Hearst Connecticut Media shortly after the fall of Afghanistan in 2021 and a bombing that killed 13 American service members and 180 Afghans that supporting each other when bad news hits is essential in battling the “roller coaster of anger.”
Over the past two years, Vieira and the Afghanistan Iraq Veterans War Memorial Fund have picked up support from the state legislature, which earmarked $230,000 to the memorial mission, and Danbury-based Fuel Cell, which donated $25,000.
Saturday’s noontime VIP ground-breaking ceremony was expected to include appearances by Mayor Roberto Alves and Farley Santos, a member of Connecticut’s House of Representatives and Alves’ community relations and constituent services advisor, who helped secure the state money for the memorial.
Jan 28, 2024
By Rob Ryser
Rob Ryser is a reporter with the News-Times. Rob is a career journalist with a rare flair for storytelling. He specializes in City Hall coverage and general assignment features.