The Glory Girls

The Glory Girls


Waterbury Republican-American - September 22, 2002
In Their Glory - By Jamison C. Bazinet

Connecticut Post  September 29, 2002
Tears, Pride as Memorial to Purple Heart Unveiled  By Amanda Cuda (you can e-mail her at:

The medal is the biggest honor Francis Coss has ever received. During the dedication of a Purple Heart memorial at the Veterans Memorial Building in Derby, Coss received a medal honoring her service as a nurse during the Korean War. The recognition meant a lot to Coss, especially since her father, Frank J. Cushner, an Ansonia newsman and twice-wounded veteran of World War I, formed the Purple Heart Association of the United States.

My father was so proud when I went [into the service], said Coss, who lives in Southbury. [If he were here now] my daddy wouldnt know what to say.

Saturday morning, more than 200 veterans, family members, politicians and others packed the lawn in front of the memorial building to dedicate the monument, which honors those who were wounded or lost their lives in the nations wars.

The even marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, which evolved from the group Cushner started in Ansonia.

That original group later moved to Derby and changed its name. The order spread across the country and now has about 400 chapters, seven of them in Connecticut.

The new monument, which stands in front of the memorial building at Seymour and Atwater avenues, reads Combat Veterans Wounded They Paid for Our Freedom With Blood. All Gave Some, Some Gave All.

A lot of hard work went into getting the monument, said John J. Doherty, commander of Chapter One of the order, in Derby.

Im so proud to see what we have here, Doherty said. We started this a little over a year ago. I didnt think wed get it so fast, but we got it.

Representatives of the state and national chapters of the order also were present at Saturdays event, including National Commander Bill Wroolie presented Coss with her medal.

This medal is a very special sort of medal, Wroolie said. There are many of us here who owe our lives to nurses.

Wroolie also spoke about the importance of recognizing those who risked, and sometimes lost, their lives in defense of their country.

This monument is going to serve to remind us that so few gave so much to our country, Wroolie said.

The Purple Heart medal, given to soldiers who die or are wounded in combat, originated as the Badge of Military Merit, first issued by Gen. George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur revived the award as the Purple Heart in 1932.

Many state and local politicians came to the dedication, including the Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Joseph Crisco, D-Woodbridge, Rep. Vincent Tonucci, D-Derby, Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, Rep. Richard O. Belden, R-Shelton and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3.

Derby Mayor Marc Garofalo spoke at the event, expressing his gratitude to all of the veterans present.

I want to just, on behalf of all citizens of Derby, thank you, Garofalo said. I salute you all and say thank you to all of you.

The event was followed by a concert at Derby High School, sponsored by the Valley Arts Council.

Valley Gazette  October 3, 2002
Ceremony Recognizes Purple Heart Honorees  By Damaris Rodrmguez, Editor

DERBY  Last Saturday was a day like no other for area veterans as they gathered at the Veterans Memorial Building to unveil a monument in honor of Purple Heart medal recipients.

More than 200 people, including veterans representing local chapters of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, family and friends, came together to remember the men and women who were wounded or lost their lives in combat.

Henry Brown-Otter, Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Department of Connecticut, was master of ceremonies.

It is fitting that we have assembled today for the dedication of this monument, Brown-Otter said.

Our words and acts add little to its significance and value, but by them we can and do consecrate ourselves to renewed loyalty to our countryand continued fidelity to essential service in days of peace as we did in war, he said.

Frank Cushner, a Marine wounded in World War I, founded the Military Order of the Purple Heart in 1932 in Ansonia; the chapter now is located in Derby.

As the flagship Purple Heart organization, the local chapter is called the George Washington Chapter Number One. Saturdays event marked its 70th anniversary.

The monument reads Combat veterans wounded: They paid for our freedom with blood. All gave some, some gave all. It sits in front of the memorial building as a reminder of their sacrifices.

Im so proud to see what we have here today, said John J. Doherty, Chapter One commander. This started a little over a year ago, and I have to say at times I didnt think we were going to get it done, but we did.

The monument cost about $13,000 and was made possible through grants and donations from local foundations and civic groups. Some Purple Heart recipients also made donations to complete the project, Dorothy said.

State and local officials attended the event, including Attorney General Richard Blumenthal; U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3); state Sen. Joseph Crisco (D-17); state Rep. Vincent Tonucci (D-104); state Rep. Themis Klarides (R-114); and state Rep. Richard Belden (R-113).

Also, in attendance were Derby Mayor Marc Garofalo, Ansonia Mayor James Della Volpe and Seymour First Selectman Scott Barton.

Garofalo presented a proclamation declaring Sept. 28, 2002 as Military Order of the Purple Heart Day in Derby.

This monument will serve to remind us of so few who gave so much, said William A. Wroolie, national commander. Thank you so much on behalf of the Purple Heart.

Wroolie took a moment to honor Francis Coss, Cushners daughter, with a medal honoring her time of service as a nurse in the Korean War.

This is the only honor I have ever received; its so nice, Coss said. My daddy would be so proud [if he were here today]. He wouldnt know what to say.

A patriotic concert at Derby High School, sponsored by the Valley Arts Council, followed the monument dedication. The concert presented performances by Michael McCann, the Brass City Ballet, the Glory Girls and Carl Barone, who has performed with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.

Waterbury Republican-American - October 27, 2002
Applause, Please - By Jim Shannon
Our Jr. Glory Girl, Chelsea, competed in the TSA Performance Network Talent Showcase and made the paper! Great going Chelsea!

Waterbury Republican-American - November 12, 2002
Dark day bright for vets - Borough parade, dignitaries pay tribute to veterans - By Ray Burton
NAUGATUCK  Under a dismal, dark sky, marchers in the Naugatuck Veterans Day on Monday paraded along Church Street as they made their way to the Town Green.

Led by several local politicians, the parade featured local veterans and members of the re-enactment group Rogers Rangers, the Naugatuck High School marching band and color guard, two companies of the high school's Junior ROTC Air Force Unit, and the police and fire department color guards as well as members of the National Guard.

Despite the overcast skies, more than 200 people attended, with most staying through the 40-minute ceremony on the Green.

"People told me this morning no one would show up today with the rain," Frank Johnson, head of the Naugatuck Veterans Council, told the crowd. "But I knew better. You wouldn't let the Naugatuck Veterans Council and the veterans down."

Several local politicians took a moment to share their thoughts before the main speaker took the stage.

Mary Midolo, wife of disabled veteran Sebastian Midolo, decried the lack of support for veterans in their reintegration into society.

"Recently, veterans of Afghanistan have come home and done the unthinkable  killing their spouses or themselves," she said. "Since 1994, the government has spent $50 million for homeless veterans. About 200,000 veterans are homeless  that's one-third of all adult homeless.

"What happened to their family support units? How many of these could have been prevented with just a little bit of support  tangible and intangible?" she asked. "As we prepare for war, we need to prepare to support the new generation of veterans and their families."

While she spoke, Fran Keith of American Legion Post No. 17 handed out American flags saved from the graves of Naugatuck veterans. Each year, when veterans groups place new flags on the graves, they save the old flags to hand out to children throughout the year.

As the World War II and Korean War veteran explained his purpose in handing out the flags, a father and his two boys walked by.

The children chimed "Thank you for the flags" at his father's prompting.

With the rain staying away, wind ebbed and blew, sending heavy, wet leaves tumbling quietly through the crowd.

After a closing prayer by Timothy Leggett, pastor of the Naugatuck Valley Community Church, the crowd was stilled by the mournful tones of echoing bugles playing "Taps."

The afternoon ended with a 30-minute performance of patriotic songs by the Glory Girls, a singing group from Waterbury.

WTNH Channel 8 - March 20, 2003
Despite War, Life Goes On
By Leon Collins
(Waterbury-WTNH, Mar. 20, 2003 6:00 PM) America is at war, but America is still going about it's day to day business. While most have something to say about the conflict they're not letting it run their lives.

Watch the story by News Channel 8's Leon Collins.

On the first day of the War in Iraq, USO performer Kimberly White of The Glory Girls remembers the last time she cheered up American troops in Kuwait.

"Actually where we were before, is a lot hotter than the last time Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, those places like that," she said, "so we're really excited about the possibility to do something."

White says The Glory Girls may soon travel again.

At Jimmy's Charcoal Kitchen, Angelo Dispensa thinks of his daughter in Houston. "I worry more about my daughter than my son because my son's here in Connecticut, so I feel a little more apprehensive about her being two thousand miles away.

Dianne Francisco thinks about her daughter, who was worried about a lock down drill at school.

"Don't worry about being locked down, they're not gonna keep you there. Just go and call me if you need to get me from home. Actually, she was kinda scared."

However, patriot Zeqir Berisha wholeheartedly waved his flag he says for kids so they'll know how great this country is.

"Can't cheat this great nation," he said. "This nation under God cannot be failed. If this nation fails, the world fails."

Waterbury school officials say the lock down drill went off without a hitch. As for the rest of the city, it was pretty much business as usual on the first day of life during war time.

WFSB Channel 3 - March 22, 2003
Pro Troops Rally in Waterbury

Waterbury - More than 200 people gathered on the Waterbury green today for a rally to support American troops at war in Iraq. People waved flags, sang patriotic songs and hoisted signs declaring their support for the military and the president. John and Cyrille Leblanc -- both veterans -- attended the rally. Jean-Claude Leblanc, who is John's son and Cyrille's grandson, is a member of the army special forces. He's in the Middle East right now.

John Leblanc served in Vietnam, and he thinks the current anti-war protests are demoralizing to the troops serving now. He said they need to keep morale as high as possible right now. Organizer Gary Reznik said he is not pro-war and held the rally to let the men and women serving overseas know people are behind them.

Meanwhile, residents in several towns in Connecticut held peace vigils and rallies. Some went down to New York City, where thousands marched against the war. Nineteen-year-old Ben Somberg traveled from Middletown to New York today for the peace protest. He says he supports American troops -- he's marching so they can come home alive. An anti-war rally is planned for tomorrow in Hartford's Bushnell Park.

Waterbury Republican-American - March 23, 2002
Gathering gives troops their support - 300 cover Downtown Green in demonstration - By Quannah Leonard

WATERBURY - State residents from as far as Manchester banded together in the city Saturday to show their support for U.S. troops.

Upward of 300 people crowded the Green for an afternoon rally organized by the Waterville Veterans Committee along with the Rat Pack Motorcycle Club, Waterville Community Club and other individuals. Later that night, 50 other residents gathered at St. Margaret's Church for a candle ceremony and prayer vigil led by the Bergin Funeral Home.

Both gatherings echoed the same sentiment - one of support.

"We care for the people that are risking their lives for us," said Tom DiBlasi, a member of the Rat Pack, who attended the two-hour rally.

The rally was awash in flags, set up by the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee. Mayor Michael J. Jarjura, one of several who spoke at the rally, wore a flag tie.

A tent stood on the Green for speakers and the crowd fanned out from there. Some rally-goers encouraged motorists along the streets to honk their horns in show of support.

"We were pleased," said Cos Docchio, master of ceremonies. "Everybody seemed to really be moved."

Underneath the tent, a sign stood in front of the lectern. It read: "For Those Who Defend it, Freedom Has a Flavor the Protected Will Never Know."

When John Sarlo, a member of the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee, stepped to the lectern, he said that sign should be embedded in everybody's mind.

Besides Jarjura, other town and state officials, including Sen. Lou DeLuca, R-Woodbury, made it to the rally. Waterbury Aldermen Paul Nogueira, who is a veteran of the first Gulf War, attended.

"I'm proud to be here not as an alderman but as a resident and former Marine," Nogueira said. "Waterbury is making us proud today."

The VFW Post 2046 of Manchester provided the color guard and rifle squad and a few words were shared by the Rev. John Williams of St. Patrick's Church.

Troops may be a long way from home but some will get to see the rally. The organizers had the event taped and copies will be sent to troops.

Fewer people showed at the night-time vigil, but it was no less powerful.

Ashley Woolf, 12, of Watertown, attended the ceremony to support her grandpa, Larry DeRosa, who performed in the taps group. But she also wanted to pay tribute to the troops.

"I'm trying my best to support the people overseas," she said. "They're trying their best and they're out there fighting for us."

Inside the dim church, two lit candles rested on a table in front. The pledge of allegiance started off the ceremony. Daniel Sefcik Sr., manager of Bergin Funeral Home, said the words with his hand over his heart and eyes closed.

"Hopefully, our prayers can be heard even though we're a million miles away," said Confessor Rodriguez, the funeral home's director, who led the ceremony.

The Rev. Joseph Looney of St. Margaret's Church and the Rev. Leigh G. McCaffrey of First Congregational Church shared scripture. Hicham Bourjaili, a parishioner from Our Lady of Lebanon in Waterbury, also said a few words.

After everybody lit their candles, Rodriguez read a poem and then the Connecticut National Guard Reserve performed a rifle salute.

Sgt. Frank Dlugokinski of the Reserve said, "We need to support our troops. They're out there risking their lives for us."

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