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Sub vets pass their torch to City of Groton
Ranks thin, memorial is placed into younger hands.
By Robert A. Hamilton
Published on Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Source: The SubVets newsletter "THE LOG" December 2002 issue
Groton — When Jack Richardson, national president of Submarine Veterans of World War II, first assumed a position of leadership in the organization, he found a memoranda from 1974 and 1991 on turning over maintenance of its memorial at Bridge and Thames streets to the City of Groton.
In those days, many in the group wanted to hold onto the duties as long as possible. But with members passing away at a rate of 25 a month, it became clear that if the group failed to act soon, there would be no one left to supervise a transition, Richardson said. "Our ranks are thinning," he said. "We have done nothing but talk about this for 20 years that I know of. It was time to do something."
Monday, during the SVWWII annual Veterans Day ceremony, Richardson announced that today he would turn over to the City of Groton a quitclaim deed for all the group's assets at its National Memorial East at Bridge and Thames streets and a $50,000 trust fund to pay for its maintenance in perpetuity.
"The City of Groton is grateful for all you have done for us," said Mayor Dennis Popp. "All I can tell you is, we'll be good stewards."
"We worked a long time on this, believe me," said Harold Ludy, president of the Thames River chapter of SVWWII. "It's a relief."
At a service next May, the group will turn over its duties to U.S. Submarine Veterans Inc., which is open to veterans of undersea warfare of any era. "Most of us are members of SubVets anyway," Ludy said.
Subvets has been taking an increasingly active role in the World War II memorial ceremonies for several years, he said, and this is the next step in a logical progression.
Ludy said that at one point the Thames River chapter had several hundred members, but that it is down to about 300 now. The men are all in their mid-70s or older.
The same is true at the national level, where for the last few years one of the busiest positions has been that of recording secretary, who must log about 300 member deaths annually. membership of 5,868 men at the annual meeting in August, it has dipped below 5,800.
Veterans Day ceremony, said that the memorial preserved through the new agreement will be a powerful presence in the region.
"Every day in the shadow of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, hundreds of local residents and visitors pass an imposing conning tower and polished granite wall of honor that encompasses the Submarine Veterans of World War II Memorial East," Ratte said. "And whether by design or by impulse, many stop, drawn by compelling visible reminders that the liberty and prosperity our nation enjoys has been purchased ... purchased by the sacrifice and service of 48 million men and women, who since our nation's founding have donned the uniform and stepped forward."
The submarine force in World War II, which comprised 1.6 percent of the Navy, sank 30 percent of Japanese warships and 60 percent of its merchant fleet, Ratte said.
"The true strength of our great nation and Navy lies in our young men and women — America's finest — those on deployment yesterday and today and those who will answer the call to service tomorrow," Ratte said.
"They follow an extraordinary legacy of courage, compassion and dedication, a legacy fashioned and forged by the selfless service and sacrifice of the veterans before them," he continued. "It is this legacy of values, attitudes and beliefs that has and will sustain us and ultimately allow peace and freedom to prevail."
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