DANBURY, Conn. — On most days, we may fail to think of those who have served or are currently serving our country. But on Sunday afternoon at the Danbury War Memorial, veterans were at the top of everyone's minds at the ninth annual Walk of Honor.
The event was attended by over 100 people, including Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and state Sen. Michael McLachlan (R-24), who represents Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield and Sherman.
The event was founded and organized by Danbury resident Mary E. Teicholz, whose son William is a veteran.
During the program, Marine Cpl. Roger Rua of Cheshire was presented with the Warrior Award for his service in Afghanistan.
Rua was injured in 2012 when an IED exploded under his vehicle. Although he was initially paralyzed from the chest down, through physical therapy Rua was able to walk again. However, he now lives in constant pain and will not be able to become a police officer as he had hoped to do after completing his military service.
Boughton said the city recognizes those individuals who have given their all to protect the nation.
"In Danbury, there are probably a dozen different ceremonies that recognize and honor our veterans, and we are proud to do it. This is our mission as good Americans," he said.
"Our young men and women are there doing a job that has to be done. We honor and thank them today as well," said Boughton, who served in the U.S. Army Reserve for seven years.
Deacon Richard Kovacs of St. Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church in Danbury said that the United States is a country of faith, hope and love and that all veterans should be honored and remembered for their service.
"We bless all those who will take that Walk of Honor to remember those of us who are here and for our veterans as we continue to remember them," he said.
Blumenthal said while the U.S. does a great job in honoring veterans, the country needs to continue to ensure they get all the benefits for which they are entitled.
"We need to do better at serving the living to make sure that our veterans are truly given what they need and deserve, and services -- whether it's healthcare or jobs and skill training -- we need to keep faith with our veterans and do more to serve the living," he said.
Blumenthal added that Rua's war didn't end in Afghanistan but continues today.
"His fight wasn't over when he left there. He has shown us something about the strength and courage of our veterans that is more inspiring than anything I could say," Blumenthal said. "To come this far, I think should inspire us all."
Blumenthal said Rua's story is not unlike that of many veterans.
"The greatest generation fought on those beaches of Iwo Jima and Normandy, but then they came back and they built the interstates and they put a man on the moon and they built a whole new generation of schools," Blumenthal said. "They made America great."
At the conclusion of the program, participants took a walk along South Street, Coalpit Hill Road, Lions Way and Memorial Drive.