SACO — It haunted him for years. Every time Ron Kendall went to his favorite bar in Wethersfield, Connecticut, there it was – a sign stolen from Saco.

Not just any sign. A sign for Memorial Field in Saco, dedicated to all veterans on Nov. 11, 1953 – Veterans Day on the year the Korean War ended.

As the story goes, the sign was taken from Saco by some people visiting the city for a softball tournament and placed on a wall near the pool table at a bar in Wethersfield, which Kendall declined to name.

For Kendall, a veteran who served in the Air Force from 1974 to 1978, the sign pulled at his heart strings.

“I felt bad for any vet in Saco not being able to enjoy the sign,” he said.

Kendall noticed the sign straight away when he first started going to the bar shortly after he moved to Wethersfield in the early 1990s.

Kendall asked the owner of the bar if the sign could be returned to Saco. He was told that those who took the sign felt the act was justified because the sign was found buried in weeds in the recreation field in Saco. Kendall’s request was denied, and the sign remained at the bar in Connecticut.

“I had to look at it for almost 30 years,” he said.

Years passed, and it still didn’t sit well with Kendall. When the bar recently changed hands, Kendall asked the new owner if the sign could be taken down and returned to its home in Saco.

The new owner agreed that the sign should be returned, and he took the sign down from the wall where it had been for decades, and handed it over to Kendall.

Kendall enlisted his friend Marty Feery, a veteran who served in the Navy in the late 1960s, and the two made the trek to Saco from Wethersfield on Tuesday to return the sign.

The metal sign appeared to be in good condition, though a bit dusty from sitting in a bar for decades. Kendall said he didn’t even dare clean it, as he didn’t want to risk damaging it.

“We’re very appreciative that you did bring it back,” Parks and Recreation Director Ryan Sommer said. The sign will be cleaned and installed back at Memorial Field, which is located at Summer Street behind the C.K. Burns School, Sommer said.

“It had no right being where it was,” Kendall said. “It’s a beautiful piece and I’ve always wanted to bring it up here.” He and Feery said they knew of other veterans who thought the sign should be returned to Saco as well.

“We just finally put our foot down and said this is going back where it belongs,” Feery said.

Saco’s Marketing and Communications Specialist Emily Roy, on behalf of city, gave Kendall and Feery sweatshirts and mugs with the city’s tagline.

“The city recently adopted the tagline Friendly by Nature, and we feel this sentiment honors that very nicely,” Roy said.

Kendall and Feery graciously accepted the gifts and the praise from city officials, and said they hoped to see a picture of the sign when it was returned to its original location.

“It’s beautiful to be recognized,” Kendall said, “but we didn’t do it for the recognition, we did it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 780-9015 or at:

[email protected]

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