Last night “60 Minutes” aired a harrowing piece on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ mistreatment of millions of vets, from Vietnam through today’s conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The department should have hired Edyo Keehan. He knew how to get things done.
Shortly after Pearl Harbor, the Westport native dropped out of Staples. He enlisted in the Navy. There was a war to fight. He was 17 years old.
He fought in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific. When the Japanese surrendered at Tokyo Bay, Edyo was there.
He came back to Westport, and worked as a truck manager for 18 years. He retired, then began a 2nd career in real estate.
But his real job was making sure that Westport’s veterans were not forgotten. Those from earlier battles — World War I — had their names on a handsome Honor Roll that stood outside the old Town Hall (the stone building next to Restoration Hardware set back from the Post Road; it’s now a bank). In 1943, Westport artist Stevan Dohanos painted the memorial for a Saturday Evening Post cover.
Four decades later, when Town Hall moved to Myrtle Avenue, the monument was lost. Edyo vowed to replace it.
It wasn’t easy. Bureaucracy moves slowly, and veterans were not high on Westport’s list of priorities.
Edyo persisted. He pushed, prodded, poked and pestered. A new Honor Roll was created. In 1998, it was dedicated on Veterans Green — opposite the Myrtle Avenue Town Hall.
The monument is perfect. It’s in exactly the right spot, at exactly the right angle. It looks like it’s been there forever.
The Honor Roll is shaded by trees. Behind them every Memorial Day, a bugler stands out of sight, playing “Taps.”
The names are etched proudly. They are there for posterity. They honor Westporters who defended their country. They honor Edyo’s neighbors, and friends.
(Edward J. “Edyo” Keehan died Saturday at Norwalk Hospital. He was 84. There are no calling hours. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place Thursday at 10 a.m., at Assumption Church.)