Interview With a Veteran: Memorial Day Road Race

Interview With a Veteran: Memorial Day Road Race

Dan Gaita, pictured right, waving, marching in the 2011 Bethel Memorial Day parade. Photo credit: Wendy Mitchell

Photo credit: Wendy Mitchell

Editor’s Note: The following is a brief interview with Bethel resident and Veteran Daniel R. Gaita who recently announced plans were finalized for a 5K in Bethel on May 19, 2012. Gaita served from 1992-1996 in Bosnia, Somalia and Haiti.

“BB” (Bethel Buzz) interviews “DG” Dan Gaita.

BB: What does this race mean to you personally?

DG: As a veteran this event hits home, but especially when I consider that one of my uncles was killed in the Pacific during World War II by a Japanese kamikaze fighter plane and my Grandfather is fortunate enough to be with us after nearly being killed by a grenade in WWII in Europe. I consider myself both blessed with this heritage yet indebted to all those that paid the ultimate sacrifice through their heroism and bravery in defense of our Nation.

BB: What was the biggest challenge in planning this event?

DG: So far the biggest challenge is ensuring the race route, venue, date and time obtained all required local and state approvals. It is a multi-step process that requires all agencies be on board. A big thanks is in order to Bethel Police Captain Robert Cedergren who has proven instrumental throughout this process. Without his support and leadership, this event would never have gotten off the ground. Also, the Bethel Police Commission deserves credit for moving the approvals along too. They have also been very supportive.

BB: What do you hope this race will accomplish on a personal and town-wide level?

DG: Since the event coincides with Bethel’s annual Memorial Day Parade Weekend, we want it to broaden local awareness of the sacrifices endured by generations of brave men and women that left home to protect us and never got a chance to reap the benefits of their personal and ultimate sacrifices.  That is why there will be no water stations throughout the race, and no prizes at the end.  That is also why we have created a course that forces runners to climb to the top of Hoyts Hill and Governors Lane. That is also why each runner will be handed a POW/MIA flag at the peak of the first mile hill climb which they will proudly carry for the duration of the race. It is one thing to “think” about sacrifice, but it is an entirely different animal to actually endure it.

Editor’s note: The following is a press release from Dan Gaita that details more information about the race—

Bethel veterans plan emotional 5k tribute run

Bethel, CT, Jan 3, 2012:  Bethel’s Joseph W. Tarrant, Jr. American Legion Memorial Post 100 has finalized plans to host its inaugural 5K War Memorial Tribute Run in honor of our nations fallen war heroes. The event is scheduled to start at 8am, Saturday May 19th 2012 at the Bethel Municipal Center.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the American Legion Scholarship Fund which aids veterans and children of veterans through individually awarded scholarships to offset the cost of higher education, books, supplies, and institutional fees.

The course, which recently received approval through the Bethel Police Commission, will begin with a ceremonial bugle playing of Taps followed by a firing squad start then take participants pass the Bethel V.F.W Hall on Main Street before sending them for a grueling “tribute” first mile hill climb up Hoyts Hill and Governors Lane where each runner will be given a grave site sized P.O.W./M.I.A. Flag.

Runners will continue the duration of the race with flag in hand, descending back down the hill, pass the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on South Street and pass the Bethel American Legion on Elizabeth St. before finishing on School Street across from the Veterans Monument adjacent to the Municipal flag pole.

What makes this event so special says event coordinator Dan Gaita, is that no prizes will be awarded and there will be no water stations throughout the race until the finish line. “This is an event to honor those that died defending our freedom. It’s not about who wins or about getting a prize. Those brave men and women died for all of us, they got no prize but we have our freedom because of them.” Said Gaita, who also serves as the Veterans Service Officer at the Bethel American Legion Post 100.

The primary goal of this event is to build the American Legion Post 100 Scholarship Fund for veterans and their children while simultaneously paying tribute to our fallen war heroes.

The event also occurs the day before Bethel’s annual Memorial Day Parade.

Those interested in participating can register online by visiting: The 5k will also be one of the least expensive in the area with registration only $15.

Businesses and individuals that may be unable to run but would still like to support this event can also do so by visiting the link above.


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Posted on January 5, 2012, in Home and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Wendy, Thank you for covering this event.

    One quick correction, I never served in the Gulf War but served in Bosnia, Somalia, and Haiti from 1992-1996.

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