Roundup: Israel, Agent Orange, Veterans Day …

A concerned Westporter, who asks to remain anonymous, writes:

“During its October 7 terrorist invasion of Israel, Hamas and its allies kidnapped 240 hostages. Americans, Israelis and citizens of many countries are among the boys, girls, men and women still held captive, including babies, children, teenagers, adults and seniors.

“The 48 posters now on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge are just 1/5 of the total number of hostages. I laminated them and tied them to the posts with string, so there is no tape, glue or any adhesive on the bridge.

“A Westport police officer nicely chatted with me before driving off. It was very comforting to hear the many shouts of thanks and encouragement from people driving and walking on the bridge as I put these up.

“It should be beyond politics to say holding civilians hostage is a fundamentally unconscionable violation of human rights and the laws of war.”

Posters on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.


“Agent Orange: A Short Sickening Saga of War” — Carl Addison Swanson’s startling and true tale of 300,000 servicemembers who died from exposure to the herbicide following their exposure in Vietnam — will be available on Veterans Day (November 11).

The Houston Chronicle calls it “a very short but powerful revelation of a war which still keeps killing.”

Fifty thousand copies will be sent to Veterans Administration regional headquarters in Providence, Roanoke, San Antonia and Los Angeles. All will be free to veterans.

Electronic editions, and the paperback, are on sale on Amazon. Click here to order.

Swanson — a 1966 graduate of Staples High School — spent 2 tours of duty in Vietnam, between 1968 and ’70. He is a lifelong Westport resident, and a prolific author. Click here for more information on his work.


Speaking of Veterans Day:

Westport’s official service is set for this Saturday (November 11, Town Hall auditorium).

At 10:30 a.m., the Westport Community Band presents a “Patriotic Salute to All Veterans” program, with marches and patriotic tunes.

Services begin at 11 a.m. — the same time the treaty was signed, ending World War I. They include posting of the colors by VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399; remarks by 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker; an address by Greens Farm Academy student Jared Lessing; and placing of a memorial wreath by VFW Auxiliary.

The Westport Police Department Honor Guard will perform a ceremonial salute.

After the ceremony, VFW Post 399 will host a Veterans Day luncheon to honor veterans for their dedicated service, sacrifices, and unwavering commitment to our nation.

The public is invited to both the Town Hall and VFW events.

Westport’s World War I doughboy statue, on Veterans Green across from Town Hall. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)


Just 2 days remain before the curtain rises on “The Prom.”

Staples Players’ fall musical promises to be one of their best shows ever. The Broadway show includes great singing and dancing, a very talented cast, plenty of laughs — and an important story line about inclusivity and acceptance.

Performances are November 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m., with matinees November 12 and 18 at 3 p.m. Click here for tickets, the cast list and more information.

Click below for a cool sneak preview:


Every Home Should Have a Challah — the Westport-based nationwide delivery service — wants every Shabbat dinner to be meaningful.

But especially the one on November 17.

Scott Sharkey’s company has just launched Shabbat 25K. The goal of the grassroots initiative is for 25,000 young people ages 21 and up across the country to host a Shabbat dinner, and educate their friends about Israel.

Every leader will receive a gift card for nourishment, and a “Shabbat essentials box” with challah,  candles,  black & white cookies, a weekly prayer, and extra goodies.

Hosts will also receive an “Israel Discussion Toolkit,” combining easy-to-digest historical context with stories from the frontlines, plus a Q&A card to help spark conversations around the Shabbat table.  Click here to sign up, and for more information.

Challah, from Every Home Should Have a Challah.


Bridgeport’s The Knowlton gallery presents an art exhibit showcasing the works of local, regional and international artists. It includes Westport artists James Chantler Brown, Herm Freeman and Kate Lashin, along with over 300 artists and photographers.

The event — including a panel — is part of the 15th annual Bridgeport Arts Trail. It’s set for this Friday (November 10, 4 to 9:30 p.m., 305 Knowlton Street.) Click here for more information.

The Knowlton.


Carl Mathis died Saturday, at his Westport home. He was 64.

His obituary calls the Illinois native “a natural performer, talented musician, capable athlete, and the easiest of friends.: He attended college at Bradley University, where he began a career in television that took him to Peoria, Denver, and Los Angeles,.

In New York City he met Risa, his wife of 32 years. They settled in Westport and raised 4 children; Robert, David, Michael and Elizabeth. He co-founded a company selling advertising on behalf of clients such as PBS and NPR.

Carl also coached basketball, and served as the president and an elder at Norwalk’s St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

He is survived by his wife, mother, 4 children, 5 siblings and their families.

A funeral service is set for tomorrow (Thursday, November 9, 2 p.m., St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Norwalk. The family will receive friends in their home on Friday, November 10, from 2 to 8 p.m. To leave online condolences, click here. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Carl’s memory may be made at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, The Lutheran Hour,  or to Carl’s favorite radio station, WNYC.


Election Day is sort of the traditional date when the number of leaves on the ground surpasses the number still on trees.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature shows what Compo Beach’s South Beach now looks like:

(Photo/Regi Kendig)


And finally … on this day in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president of the United States. He defeated incumbent Herbert Hoover.

The country was in the depths of the Great Depression. But Roosevelt’s theme song was upbeat, and became forever associated with him:

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8 responses to “Roundup: Israel, Agent Orange, Veterans Day …

  1. Richard Bortolot

    Thank you to anonymous for placing the hostage posters on the bridge. “Never Forget!!”

  2. To my fellow westporter for posting the photos of these innocent hostages, their very presence reminds me daily that somewhere in Gaza, we have loved ones frightened, held captive, and countless family members unable to function until they hug them again. I happen to know of one, my daughter in college has a room mate who’s grandmother is one of the hostages)

    Thank you for putting up these reminders, it is so easy to forget. Although this time, maybe not so.
    I was crossing the bridge last night and someone was praying beside those same photographs.

    I was really overcome, just imagining if it were a member of my family.

    I am happy to help. May we please try to post one for every hostage.
    It will remind us every day until they are freed, of their captivity, and make it all the more personal.
    Not only should we remember. We must remember.

  3. Andrew Colabella

    I know who it is, and I think it’s EXTREMELY important to keep reminding people that there are 240 humans being held captive hidden from the world and their families.

    I have discovered that people wish to remain anonymous because they fear being targeted and attacked, because that is what is happening in the United States.

    Jewish people make up for just a little over 2% of the population in the United States.

    Hate crimes are up 400% since 2022, long before the October 7th attack.

    The Jewish faith has been under attack for centuries. A group of peaceful and traditional people, who simply believe in something that others do not, are being bombed, vilified, harassed, discriminated, and outcasted.

    Westport has the largest Jewish population in Fairfield County. While I am not Jewish, I strongly support their beliefs and their way of life to being free from any discrimination and prejudice.

    I find their traditions and values to be enlightening and very family oriented but also, reminding their future generations of what they have endured, and to never repeat or go through such atrocities ever again.

    A blue ribbon tied to a tree is a sign of support to Israel and the hostages taken by Hamas. They are popping up around town, and I am in receipt of many blue ribbons if anyone needs them. Email me at

  4. Pass me one please Andrew ! I will proudly hang it around the biggest tree in my front garden .

  5. Lee Nelson, who are you referring to ? Andrew ? Or me ?

  6. Red ribbons for the 5,000 dead Palestinian children. Against Our Better Judgement by Alison Weir, read it and weep for the indigenous people of Palestine.

  7. Alison Weir: disavowed by Jewish Voice for Peace (hardly a supporter of Israel) for repeatedly appearing on the show of Clay Douglas, an avowed white supremacist, anti-semite, anti-gay radio show host, among other problematic associations.

    JVP letter to Ms. Weir:

    “In the course of your appearance with Clay Douglas on August 25, 2010, for example, you were silent when Douglas invoked the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and engaged in a racist diatribe against Jews.”

    “One of your articles appeared in an anthology that was promoted by the infamous Holocaust-denial organization, the Institute for Historical Review. We see no evidence that you have disavowed any of these outlets or institutions.”

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