Mary Kight of Waterbury gestures towards the new Gold Star Mothers Memorial that was unveiled Friday night in City Hall. Since 1917 there have been 529 men from Waterbury that have lost their lives in service to the country and the new memorial recognizes the sacrifice and sorrow endured by their families. Kight’s son, Michael, died in Vietnam attempting to evacuate injured soldiers from the battlefield. Kight was a pilot in the US Army, 336th Air Helicopter Command, and died May 19, 1967. Kight said the emotion on the statue’s face captured the shock and pain a family experiences when they lose a family member. Standing behind Kight are Bob Dorr and Doc’ D’Occhio, the two members of the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee that drove to Philadelphia and transported the statue to Waterbury. Committee. Photographs by John Murray
Waterbury’s Michael Kight was killed in 1967 in Vietnam.
The memorial was a gift to the city from the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee. The group raised $70,000 in six months to have Philadelphia sculptor Andrew Chernak craft the statue. Waterbury is only the third community in America to have a memorial to Gold Star Mothers. Chernak said it didn’t matter how many more were created, it would be impossible to have one in a more beautiful setting than the one in Waterbury City Hall.
Veterans greeted visitors to the ceremony with a stunning half-ring of flags.
Doc D’Occhio, left, and Bob Dorr, go over the program minutes before the ceremony started. In the background the Gold Star Mothers Memorial was still concealed.
Republican-American publisher Bill Pape attended the unveiling, and his newspaper donated generously to the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee to assist them in buying the $65,000 sculpture.
Colonel John Chiarella, the chairman of the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee, was delighted when three granddaughters arrived from out of town to witness the unveiling.
Gold Star Mothers from around Connecticut attended the ceremony, and Judith Young, right, was the past national president of American Gold Star Mothers.
Waterbury City Clerk, Mike Dalton, saluted during the National Anthem last night.
Wendy D’Occhio of the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee travelled out of state with her husband, Doc D’Occhio, to visit other Gold Star Mother Memorials, and was instrumental in assisting Waterbury to become just the third city in the country to have one.
The Waterbury Young Marines Color Guard opened the ceremony that Bob Dorr later described as one of the best gatherings in Waterbury in years. More than 300 people attended the event, and afterwards enjoyed food and refreshments catered by D’Amelio’s Restaurant.