As we celebrate the centennial of the end of World War I, it provides an important opportunity to honor Wilton veterans. Veterans are prepared to give up their lives for our country. They are ready to risk their lives at any second to protect the freedom of the United States. There are many who have died over the years that are Wilton veterans. James B. Whipple and Charles R. Fredrickson are the two Wilton veterans who died in World War I. By taking time to remember these two heroes from the past, we make sure that their sacrifices that have enabled Americans to enjoy our freedom today are never forgotten.

One way to honor these two veterans, and all veterans, is to learn about them and their lives. This helps their stories come to life, and we have a better appreciation for what they sacrificed. For instance, I learned that James B. Whipple was the first Wilton resident to die in World War I. He was born in 1893 and had three brothers and one sister. He was a machinist in Detroit before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps. While Whipple was in the Marines, he was assigned to a division in the Army. In addition, a second Wilton resident named Charles R. Fredrickson died in World War I. He was ranked private and died of wounds from the war. As I learned about these men, I thought about how their families had made a sacrifice as well. They are also heroes to me.

Another way to honor veterans is to take time out of our busy days to think about the sacrifices they have made. Most kids may not think about veterans often, but we should consider what they have done for us. I was able to do this by visiting Wilton’s Veterans Memorial Green. It has six columns of honor that recognize Wilton’s fallen heroes who made the supreme sacrifice in America’s wars. While I was there, I thought about all 86 Wilton veterans who died and how their sacrifices created a world of opportunity for me and my friends and family. I felt thankful for them and sad that they died in action. I saw the names of James B. Whipple and Charles R. Fredrickson and silently thanked them for their sacrifice for all that has been given to me.

Meeting veterans in person and learning about history is one of the best ways to honor veterans. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Bill Glass, commander of American Legion Post 86 here in Wilton. He taught me about James B. Whipple, and also the importance of veterans, such as their role in creating the history of our country, and their contributions to our community. Mr. Glass also told me about his more than twenty-five years he spent in the Navy, serving our country during the Cold War. He shared a story about one of his most difficult moments when he was in the Black Sea and thought that his ship might be under attack. Most importantly, he spoke of the pride and satisfaction he felt being a veteran, and his hope that new generations will continue to serve their country. There are heroes living with us today who are important to honor as well those from the past.

This Veterans’ Day my hope is that we all find our own way to honor veterans. There are over 20 million veterans in the United States who we can honor, but we should especially think about the military heroes that are living in Wilton today.  They are our doctors, teachers, neighbors, and various other members of our community. They have given so much to our country and continue to give to us every day. Taking a personal approach to honoring and thanking veterans can mean more than anything, and I will always be grateful for our heroes.
Alex Kuechenmeister
Middlebrook Middle School