Waterford - Visitors to Town Hall who walk down a corridor and around a corner will find a wall with framed photographs of two of the local soldiers who were killed in action overseas.
But they will not find pictures of Army Staff Sgt. Ari R. Cullers and Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Edwin Rivera, both from Waterford and both of whom were killed in Afghanistan within the past two years.
Cullers' mother, Robin Cornele, said she never would have known about the display if she hadn't seen it when she went to Town Hall for a permit late last year.
"My heart was in my stomach," she said. "I thought, 'Oh my God. This is where Ahn is? And Ari and Edwin aren't even up.'"
Marine Cpl. Kemaphoom "Ahn" Chanawongse, Waterford High School Class of 1999, was killed in the opening days of the Iraq War in March 2003 during operations on the outskirts of Nasiriyah. His photo, a memorial certificate and a flag flown in his honor make up the heart of the display.
There is also a photo of Army Capt. Arnold E. Holm Jr., a helicopter pilot from town who was killed during the Vietnam War, as well as a story from The Day about the search for Holm's remains. His remains were ultimately found and were buried last November in Arlington National Cemetery.
First Selectman Dan Steward said the display was assembled before he was elected and he wasn't sure when it would be appropriate to ask the soldiers' families about it. But, he said, he is looking to meet with the families in June.
Cornele has asked Steward to move the photos to the main entrance, or at least toward the front of the building, where there is already a display case for soldiers who are serving now. Cullers died Oct. 30, 2011, in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with a rocket-propelled grenade.
"All I'm asking is to get their pictures in front," Cornele said. "I think it's dishonorable where they have them."
Steward said he is not sure whether the town should include more local veterans killed in action and he needs to ask people with military experience about the proper way to show respect for fallen soldiers. "I want to spend some time doing it. I want to do it right," he said. "It won't be the quickest in the world, but it's definitely on the agenda."
With Memorial Day approaching, Cornele said she would like to see the display changed sooner rather than later. The state will honor Cullers Thursday by adding his portrait to the Wall of Honor tribute in the State Capitol complex in Hartford. In total, six portraits of Connecticut soldiers killed in Afghanistan will be added during the annual ceremony.
Mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the service are "fierce," Cornele said.
"They don't want their children forgotten," she said. "And I'm not going to let that happen."