Southington, Conn. –
SOUTHINGTON, Conn. – The Connecticut National Guard hosted the annual Armed Forces Day Luncheon in-person for the first time after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic May 20, 2022.
The luncheon is a state tradition that dates back to the 1960s and brings together members of Connecticut’s military, veteran, civic, and business communities to celebrate military service and to honor those who have served, or continue to serve, the state and nation.
“It’s great to be able to gather after an unprecedented pandemic prevented us for formally celebrating Armed Forces Day the past two years,” said Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, adjutant general for the Connecticut National Guard. “The Connecticut National Guard has been honored to host this event for over 20 years, paying special tribute to the men and women of our Armed Forces.”
This year’s event saw more than 700 service men and women from nearly every branch and component of the military, veterans whose service dates back to the Vietnam, Korean, and Second World War, as well as prominent local business supporters in attendance.
The luncheon featured speeches by keynote speaker Maj. Gen. Lee M. Ellis, assistant deputy commanding general for National Guard affairs at U.S. Army Materiel Command, and guest speakers Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Attorney General William Tong.
Lamont thanked the veterans and service members, making special note of everything the National Guard did for the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, and shared a personal story about his uncle who served in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.
“His submarine went missing during the very last weeks of the war,” Lamont said. “It wasn’t until many months later that our family realized what happened to the submarine. My family talked about it as though he had just left the room for the next 50 years … Freedom isn’t free. My heart goes out to all of our extraordinary service men and women who provide their service on behalf of this nation.”
In addition to providing remarks, Lamont also took a moment to officially re-appoint Maj. Gen. Evon to serve four more years as Adjutant General and commander of the Connecticut Military Department.
While the Armed Forces Day Luncheon is meant to be a celebratory event and build camaraderie among the different branches, it’s also a time to reflect of the service and sacrifice of those no longer with us and those left behind.
“As we approach Memorial Day next weekend, it’s important that we remember and pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Evon. “Today, we continue to honor those left behind—those who paid a very personal price for us and our nation, our Gold Star Families. Allow me to express our appreciation to you on behalf of all those present today. We are humbled by your sacrifice, inspired by your resilience, and grateful for your continued service to your communities.”
Armed Forces Day is a national observance in the United States, celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May each year. The holiday was created on Aug. 31, 1949, by then-Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson at the behest of President Harry S. Truman to replace the separate armed forces branch observance days.