Provided by Cmdr. Ted Grabarz
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Naval War College students, U.S. Marine Corps Col. Brent Spahn and U.S. Navy Cmdr. Ted Grabarz, participated in the dedication of the World War II memorial in Bridgeport on June 6, 2009 for the 65th anniversary of D-Day.
Spahn, the College of Naval Warfare 2009 senior class president, led the Governor of Connecticut’s Foot Guard and Police and Fire Department Color Guards in a moving dedication to pay tribute to all of the World War II veterans from Bridgeport killed in action during the war. The ceremony brought the opportunity to bring closure to many of the veterans of World War II that have never had a monument to their efforts in Bridgeport.
The memorial was designed by Grabaz, a reservist who is also a student in the College of Naval Warfare class of 2009. The memorial pays tribute to the homefront, representing the families that supported the warfighters overseas and names all of the companies that contributed their industrial effort to the war. Three black granite panels, quarried in Vermont, held the names all of that had given the ultimate sacrifice, flanked by two panels of evocative iconic images of the war provided by the U.S. Naval Institute Historical Archives Collection. Two water features separated the flanked panels from the names of the fallen evoking the two theaters of war fought over the Atlantic and Pacific, all supported by the pyramidal form holding the names of the companies.
Evelyn Cherpak, head of the Historical Collection at the Naval War College, also attended the ceremony to conduct oral interviews with veterans who wanted to memorialize their thoughts on the war. One of the timely interviewees was George Burr who was on the first wave to land at Omaha Beach that profound yet fateful day for many, sixty five years ago.
She plans to interview Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s father, who was on two U.S. Navy ships sunk during the war. Finch and his father laid the traditional dedication wreath on the memorial at the ceremony’s conclusion. The father was on the lead ship of the armada heading for Normandy that fateful day.
"I am grateful my dad survived, but many young men did not survive," Finch told the audience. "America's greatest accomplishments are ahead of her, and this memorial is a beacon of light to show us the way."