The TASC (Toward A Stronger Community) Group has for two years examined and suggested the elements underlying a more resilient and enduring Wilton. These have included accountability, transparency, controls, auditability, in-depth analysis, data integrity, and the recognition of balance between cost and value.

Together with citizen courage to speak out in favor of these attributes, and the performance of many board members to take the more difficult stands in advocating for them, we can start to see the beginnings of a sustainable financial future and a town on course to become the very best it can be.

Awareness and understanding have multiplied. Dialogues and discussions have been more meaningful. Decisions have regularly demonstrated rational thought and less emotional underpinning. Progress grinds slowly, but inevitably toward outcomes that increasingly satisfy the requirements of both their initiators and those who pay the bills. Fast enough? Comprehensive enough? No, but progress, nonetheless.

There is another ingredient of strength, which on this week spanning Memorial Day deserves an important look. It is one that derives from the people themselves who have made Wilton what it is. It stems from the penetrating commentary just last week in this paper about survival and gratitude (Lou Reens, “Occupation, liberation”), the Veterans Photo Supplement (thanks to Carol Russell), and the historical perspectives so carefully offered by Bob Russell in his writings and in his speeches.

This photographic panorama of men and women is remarkable in its breadth and reach, the places they served, and the times in which they offered that service to a grateful nation. In the faces of the very young, one can only imagine their hopes and expectations; not all returned as grizzled veterans. In the images of so many from battle-scarred missions, there is the weariness and fear from jungle operations, through the loneliness and anxieties of pitching decks at sea.

A community of vast diversity. And from that diversity, much strength. They served then. And some serve now. They are often recognizable today in varying roles as parents, friends, neighbors, volunteers, and with very few exceptions it would seem, as patriots.

They are all distinguished by their defense of our freedoms. They are the reason the skies overhead are empty of aggressors, and the streets of Fairfield County are void of deadly trajectories, as from rockets, grenades, and mortar fire. Peacekeepers all. Protectors of the American way.

Indeed, the main trajectories we currently encounter are those of tennis balls at the high school courts, arcing over the nets. My own foursome has included a concert pianist, a Hubble telescope engineer, and a retired art teacher. All citizen-soldiers in the finest tradition. All dedicated their professional careers to enriching lives, and perpetuating values. In the presentation of the gift of music, the exploration of the universe, and the appreciation of a landscape or still life.

Take another look at that special section and the faces displayed. Not simply to express thanks for the jobs they did. But to appreciate that we are all the most fortunate beneficiaries of their legacies, and the daily recipients of their sacrifices that have become our very own characteristics, our values, and our compasses.

Altogether, they are a distinctive cross section. Each page is a patchwork quilt of service and dedication. They are a portrait of strength. They are among this community’s most indispensable assets. And in that sense, also filled with accountability and integrity, and marked by courage and performance. They foreshadow an even better tomorrow.