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Boy Scout creates memorial for Gulf veterans in Windsor Locks

Journal Inquirer - 1/18/2021

Jan. 18—WINDSOR LOCKS — A crowd of nearly 40 people gathered at the corner of Elm and Mulberry streets Sunday for a ceremony that honored veterans who served in the Gulf War.

The site has been restored by Jake Lang, a senior at Windsor Locks High School, in an Eagle Scout project. Lang said he was inspired by father, Robert Lang, a town police officer and a Gulf War veteran.

Lang said the project's success belongs to his father as much as it does to him.

"For my father, I definitely know this was a very important project for him," Lang said. "He was a Boy Scout and never got his Eagle Scout, so I definitely feel this one as much a project for him as it was me. We worked together on this a lot, and we both poured heart and soul into it."

Lang restored two benches in front of the site, installing new plaques on them. On top of that, Lang was responsible for the garden, adding trees, pillars, and stones.

Lang explained the difficulty of the project.

"I was balancing my role as a junior leader in the troop, a job, and schooling, as well as a relationship. It was definitely a struggle, and I definitely got close to a breakdown a few times. I was not expecting such a demanding project but in the end it was all worth it," he said."

Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the Gulf War combat.

The ceremony drew veterans, friends, family, neighbors, as well as Selectman Paul Harrington and First Selectman J. Christopher Kervick.

Kervick told the story of taking his wife, daughter, and parents to the Westover Air Reserve Base to watch soldiers return from the Gulf to celebrate them. Now, he said, any resident can visit the site in town to honor those veterans.

"My hat is off to him for the leadership he has displayed, and the example he has set for all of us," Kervick said of Lang. "It's my hope that all of us will always remember to honor those veterans who have served for us."

Lang's father, Robert, said he was incredibly proud of his son.

"I'm really proud of him. He has 90 merit badges — a whole bunch," Robert said. "It was really cool to see the other veterans there too. There were some tears in the audience, and I think everyone was taken aback."

Robert Lang praised Wendy Knowles, youth services director, for suggesting the idea. Robert said Knowles knew that Lang was close to obtaining Eagle Scout and was supportive of him.

Lang must now undergo a board of review to officially become an Eagle Scout.

"In my mind, this is the most important day of my life so far, and I certainly hope it isn't for the rest of my life. I want to continue to do good things and I want to continue the trend of just bringing light into people's lives and making this how people should view veterans in our country," Lang said.

For updates on East Windsor, Windsor, and Windsor Locks, follow Joe Chaisson on Twitter: @TheJoeyChaisson, Facebook: Joe Chaisson, and Instagram: @JIJoeChaisson.


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