Memorial Day Parade Canceled; Ceremony at Town Hall [UPDATE]


New Canaan's Memorial Day Parade makes its way down Main Street to the Lakeview Cemetery, 2018. Credit: Keelin Daly

UPDATE 6:55 a.m. Monday

Town officials canceled the Memorial Day Parade due to expected rain. There’s limited space at Town Hall for the ceremony led by VFW Post 653 at 10 a.m.


Officials from New Canaan Fire Company No. 1 are reminding residents that after the Memorial Day parade and ceremony, they’re hosting the community for a barbecue at the firehouse on Main Street.

The lower bay of the firehouse is open to the public and free hot dogs are available for anyone who wants them, usually starting around 11:15 a.m., according to volunteer firefighter Steven Kryger.

“It’s a great chance to drop in, get a picture with our fire trucks, step inside the station, eat a hot dog and an ice cream sandwich, and meet some town firefighters,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on attendance at the popular gathering. Prior to COVID, some 300 people would stop by the firehouse after the ceremony in Lakeview Cemetery—now it’s down to fewer than 100, according to Kryger.

“For the many new residents in town, this is the type of small town event that makes New Canaan special,” he said. “You can touch our trucks. You can get to know our firefighters, and then say hi to them every time you pass the firehouse. You can even learn about becoming a volunteer firefighter yourself. This is nothing formal—just stop in when you can.”

It’s also time for the donor-supported Fire Company’s annual fundraiser for training, recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters in town. The organization has seen strong growth in recent years, though that now requires more resources (donate here). 

What follows is information about the Memorial Day parade and ceremony from Frances Wilson, who along with her husband, Chris Wilson, assists the VFW in raising money and getting the word out about veterans-related events in New Canaan.


VFW Plans Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony

The Town of New Canaan and the Howard M. Bossa and Peter C. Langenus Post 653 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of the United States are pleased to announce plans for a traditional New Canaan Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 27th, and Memorial Day Ceremony following the parade at Lakeview Cemetery.

Each year we gather to remember with gratitude and honor the proud men and women who gave their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces to protect and preserve a life of freedom for all Americans.

The Parade steps off from St. Mark’s Church at 9:30 am and proceeds down Oenoke Ridge Road to upper Main Street, past the Wayside Cross at God’s Acre, past the Firehouse and Town Hall, and continues down Main Street turning and entering the Cemetery through the gates on the left near Millport Avenue. There at the flagpole, parade watchers and marchers gather with Veterans and Town officials for remarks about the true meaning and purpose of the Memorial Day holiday. All residents are invited and encouraged to attend the parade and ceremony. [If the route changes for any reason the information will be posted on 

For the first time, this year’s ceremony will have a flyover by a C-130 transport plane at exactly 11am.

This year, the VFW selected Brian van der Heyden to act as the parade’s Grand Marshal. The keynote speaker for the Memorial Day ceremony is MyLinh Brewster Shattan. 

Keynote Speaker: MyLinh Brewster Shattan

MyLinh publishes the and podcast, where she shares the best writing and ideas. Her upcoming book is a true story about a new military tradition: one passed on from mother to daughter. She wrote for the Tampa Tribune, taught in college, and over the course of her career, directed generalist human resources, managed industrial relations for multi-plant operations, and led personnel operations in support of the Army’s largest brigade. 

Mrs. Shattan is grateful to be the keynote speaker on this solemn day. “It has been the great honor of my life to wear the cloth of the nation and to lead America’s soldiers. I am humbled to accept this honor on behalf of Mike McGlinn and all of the members of the local VFW, past and present.” 

MyLinh will speak about those currently serving in harm’s way, her experience in Vietnam, and New Canaan residents who played a role during that long conflict. 

Shattan will honor seven New Canaan residents who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War: Charles David Austin, Richard Oliver Bickford, David Moy Burke, Jr., Creighton Lynn Conner, Fred Andrew Lind, William Brewster Nickerson, and Howard Bruce Smith. Family and friends of these men are encouraged to attend the ceremony. They are also welcome to share any stories or information via the site contact page. Readers and a grateful public may learn more about these servicemen at the site’s event page:  

MyLinh reported to West Point for cadet basic training—Beast Barracks—in 1987. In the twelfth class that admitted women, she was a cadet captain and captain of the Women’s Track Team. She was commissioned as a U.S. Army officer in the Adjutant General Corps and served on active duty from 1991 to 1994 with the 381st PSC in Pirmasens and the 189th PSC in Kaiserslautern, both in Germany. She is Airborne and Air Assault qualified and led her battalion’s first Nijmegen Team of soldiers on the International Four Day (100-mile) Marches. 

She continues to work with the military in the Admissions Field Force for the U.S. Military Academy as the state coordinator for Connecticut and is a senior panelist for U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy’s nominations panel. She is an inaugural board member and Chair of the Scholarship Committee for the Night Stalker Foundation—which supports the world’s most elite aviation unit, the 160th SOAR(A) (Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Airborne). 

Mylinh received her B.S. in Mathematics and Systems Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Queens University of Charlotte and an M.B.A from Florida Southern College. 

She lives in New Canaan with her husband Mark these past 16 years where they raised three children who were involved with New Canaan youth sports, National Charity League, and the New Canaan Nature Center. Her mother moved to New Canaan in 2018. Shattan’s three children are serving on active duty in the U.S. Army.

The VFW Post is led by Francis “Mike” McGlinn as Commander.  Serving with him are Aaron Hall, Senior Vice Commander, Paul Gjuraj, Junior Vice Commander, John Kowalski, Quartermaster, and Brian van der Heyden, Chaplain. The Post meets at the Masonic Lodge at 231 Main Street.

Mr. McGlinn, who served as an Artillery Officer during the Vietnam War, commented, “Memorial Day is a great opportunity for all of us to remember everyone who made the ultimate sacrifice in military service for our country.”

Grand Marshal: Brian van der Heyden

A native New Canaanite, Brian attended local school and graduated from New Canaan High School in 1965. He is from a family of six United States Marines.

In September of 1966 Brian enlisted in the United States Marine Corps with four other local buddies. Their basic training was done at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. Upon the completion of his “boot camp” Brian traveled to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for infantry training. From there he flew to Camp Pendleton in California for schools battlaion, advanced combat training and staging. His next destination was Okinawa for further processing. After three days on Okinawa he boarded a commercial flight and flew into at that time, the busiest airport in the world; DaNang Airport, Republic of South Vietnam.

While in Vietnam van der Heyden served in DaNang, Tam Ky, Quang tri, Phu Bai, Gia Le and Hue City. As “Point Man” he served on more than one hundred day and night patrols in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. He survived the 1968 Tet offensive battle of Hue City.

He earned the Marine Corps Combat Action award, Presidential Unit Commendation (awarded twice), Vietnam Service Medal with four starts, and the Meritorious Unit Commendation Award, among others. Brian is the recipient of a Meritorious Combat Promotion and Letter of Commendation from his Commanding Officer.

Upon returning to the United States he earned two degrees in Criminal Justice from the University of New Haven. 

Brian’s late father was a decorated combat Marine who fought in the battles of Guadalcanal and Bougainville during World War II. His son, Daniel Lee, currently a Lieutenant on the Fairfield, Connecticut Police Department served with Charlie Co., 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division.

Brian received the honor of being the invited keynote speaker at his Alma Mater on Veterans Day 2018. He was the keynote speaker at the Memorial Day Ceremony in 2018. He is a 72 year parishioner of St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church and a 56 year Life Member of VFW Post 653 where he currently serves as Chaplain. He is a life member of the Marine Corps Association and supports numerous Marine Corps and Veteran organizations.

Brian is honored to represent the town of New Canaan as Grand Marshal at this year’s Memorial Day services.

Other Notable Participants

This year’s Color Guard will be from the Maintenance Service Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 25, 4th Marine Logistics Group. Rev. Gilbert Burgess, pastor of New Canaan Baptist Church will offer the Invocation and Benediction at the ceremony. 

The Line of March will be posted on the Town website on Thursday, May 23.

There will be a pancake Breakfast at the Masonic Lodge at 7am, and hot dogs, ice cream sandwiches and sodas, courtesy of the New Canaan Fire Company #1 after the parade and ceremony at the back of the firehouse on Main Street.

No parking will be allowed on Main Street from 8 a.m. until the parade finishes.

In the event of heavy rain, a parade cancellation notice will be posted on the Town website at and social media pages and the Memorial Ceremony will be conducted at Town Hall at 10:00 am with limited seating.

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