Wethersfield Changes Memorial Day Fireworks Amid Controversy

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The Wethersfield Chamber of Commerce has agreed to reschedule a fireworks display originally slated for Memorial Day after receiving complaints from area veterans.

The vets raised concerns about how the town remembers Memorial Day and the controversy that surrounds the fireworks display.

United States Army Veteran, George Ruhe, was the most vocal in opposition to fireworks on Memorial Day.

Ruhe was just 18 years old when he joined the Army during World War II and before long, he was shipped off to Germany where he’d fire mortar and see serious combat starting in January 1944.

But more recently, Ruhe’s fought a battle with his own town of Wethersfield about a proposal to light fireworks for the first time this upcoming Memorial Day.

“As I grew up, memorial day was a much more somber holiday,” says Ruhe.

Ruhe wasn’t happy, seeing fireworks as a sign of disrespect. He views the “dancing girls, antique cars” pageantry of many Memorial Day parades counter the holiday’s intent.

But Chamber of Commerce Director Melanie Goodin thought the display would fit nicely after the annual memorial day parade.

“We just thought it would be a great day to celebrate Wethersfield,” she says.

But Ruhe wants celebrations saved for the 4th of July to commemorate the birth of our nation and memorial day to be set aside for memorializing the death of soldiers in combat.

“I’ve had friends that were killed,” he says.

Once they learned of Ruhe’s complaints, the chamber agreed to have the fireworks at Wethersfield Cove after memorial day, on May 31.

From Valentines day through May, the chamber has several fundraisers planned to reach the $15,000 needed for the fireworks.

“Everyone’s getting a buzz about it, the kids are talking about it,” says Goodin.

That’s the good news, as Wethersfield welcomes back fireworks for the first time since the 1970s, is the show is set on a day that won’t create further concern for veterans like Ruhe.

“There was no reason, there was no intention to upset anybody, it was all just for the community itself so once we heard about it, we said okay, let’s change it, no big deal,” says Goodin.

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