Remarks by State Senator Toni Boucher Nick Madaras’ Veteran Of The Month Program Norwalk American Legion Post 12, August 2, 2009

May 20, 2009

It has been written that a veteran is “someone who wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America ‘ for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.’ The real implication of this statement is not truly understood or recognized by many of our fellow Americans.

I am proud to say that our American Legion Posts 12 and 86 and the other wonderful service organizations represented here today do understand and do work hard to honor the sacrifices made on our behalf by the men and women who have served our country.

They understand that we owe a great debt of gratitude to those who served and those who gave their lives or their health so than we can live free and secure.

Today’s Veteran Of The Month ceremony is particularly special for our communities as the person we are honoring is Nicholas Madaras.

Although this much-loved young man is greatly missed, his memory continues to live in the inner strength and the good works of his courageous family. Instead of receding into the dark solitude of immeasurable grief, they turned and reached outward to a community they so desperately wanted to help. They embraced Ken Dartley’s expression of sorrow in the form of a campaign to bring Nick Madaras’s dream of providing youngsters in Iraq who love soccer as much as he did, with soccer balls, instead of tin cans, to play with.

It takes extraordinary people to take the very worst tragedy that can befall them, the death of a son, and turn their personal sorrow into joy for 21,000 Iraqi children in the “Kicks for Nick” soccer program, and a safe haven for homeless returning veterans in the “Homes for the Brave” program. Furthermore, American Soldiers currently serving overseas are reaping the benefits of the enormous contributions and goodwill created in Nick’s memory by his parents and Ken.

It is remarkable to note that when our community struggled to find a way to console a heartbroken Madaras family, it was, instead, provided with a strong role model of fortitude, perseverance and inspiration. They helped to make good things happen during the worst of circumstances. Through their personal tragedy, the Madaras family has provided a beacon of hope, making a true difference in this often cynical world.
It is now my privilege to present to you Shalini Madaras, Nick’s amazing mother. I know that you will find the personal character of this wonderful 19- year- old reflected in his mother’s words of inner strength.