‘It Is Not a Forgotten War’: New Canaan Remembers WWI During Veterans Day Observance

The Town Band led two parades in New Canaan on Nov. 11, 1918, the day the Allies of World War I signed an armistice with Germany to cease hostilities on the Western Front. Church bells had started ringing out at 3 a.m. that Monday in New Canaan, historians say, bonfires were lit and the townspeople burned Kaiser Wilhelm II in effigy. The war was over, signaling both the return of New Canaanites serving overseas and the end of deliberate austerity to support the Allies’ efforts. Food shortages had led to the launch of a Canning Club out of Center School’s kitchen.

PHOTOS: New Canaanites Who Died While Serving in World War II

Since creating a memorial walk dedicated to New Canaanites who perished during World War II in 2003 in Mead Park, town resident Jim Bach, a Korean War veteran, has spearheaded efforts to improve the visibility and appearance of this town landmark. Those efforts have included re-planting of trees along the “Gold Star Walk,” creating a second footbridge to extend it and installing a new walkway and map—and a venerable nonprofit organization now is offering to help Bach preserve the memorial, which features a plaque listing names of the 38 men who died during the war (see gallery above for information on the servicemen). The memorial has stood for more than 10 years, and Bach—a 1947 New Canaan High School graduate who served as a U.S. Army sergeant from 1952 to 1954—said he wants to add some finishing touches, to ensure its longevity. “I want to see it done, it was part of my life a long time ago and it kept me out of trouble at one time,” Bach said. “The final thing that I wanted to get done with the memorial is to put in a bridge across the main stream that enters the park, on the west side of the garage.