PHOTOS: New Canaanites Gather at God’s Acre, Town Hall To Honor U.S. Military Veterans


More than 200 people, many in uniform, gathered at God’s Acre a crisp, sunny morning Friday for New Canaan’s Veterans Day ceremony.

Led by VFW Post 653 Commander Peter Langenus, a U.S. Army captain in Vietnam who also served as a colonel during Operation Desert Storm, the ceremony included remarks from Desert Storm veteran and Saxe Middle School educator Christopher Cogswell as well as First Selectman Rob Mallozzi and Lisa Melland, regent of the Hannah Benedict Carter Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, presentation of the flag by the New Canaan Police Department Color Guard, a tolling of the bells in First Congregational Church by Linda Avgerinos and a reading of the poem “In Flanders Field” as well as the names of New Canaan veterans who have passed in the past year (full list below).

Cogswell, a third-generation New Canaanite and ’86 NCHS grad who works as a special needs assistant and recess supervisor, in his remarks opened a discussion about what he called “two words that are a common virtue in all of us, ‘uncommon valor.’ ”

“The meaning of these words usually starts with an oath or a pledge: ‘I do solemnly swear,’ or ‘on my honor,’ ” Cogswell said, standing at a podium in front of the Wayside Cross, a monument to World War I veterans that was erected in 1923 at the foot of God’s Acre.

“In combat I learned that uncommon valor was a common virtue. Real heroes are the quiet men and women of action and duty. I still believe that to this day. Let us never forget that we cannot rightfully celebrate the joy of our freedom without remembering the great price paid for that freedom. We stumble at the eternal debt we owe to the untold number of American veterans whose uncommon valor made them set aside their dreams, their families to assure the well-being of this nation.”

Professionals who risk their lives for others’ safety each day are also described by the term, Cogswell said, including police, firefighters and EMTs—dozens of whom attended the ceremony.

“These heroes and ‘she-roes’ possess this same virtue,” he said. “For all the veterans, all first responders have this virtue. Whether you’re born with it, inherit it or just learn to feel it, thank you for your uncommon valor.”

He continued: “To the families of our veterans and first responders, you have a unique strength that we all draw up on before going off to war or an emergency call. While we are away and after we come home, thank you for your uncommon valor.”

“Regardless of what Veterans Day meant to me as a kid, it is one of the most important holidays of the year to me now. I don’t mean to diminish the importance of other holidays. But all the other holidays would be sad and painful for all of us, if it weren’t for the many millions of men and women who served, who fought, who spent time far away from home, some of them never to return home. Because of the sacrifices of these veterans we’re free to celebrate today. So whenever you see a veteran, or whenever you see a first responder, thank them, thank them for their uncommon valor.”

Following the ceremony, which included prayers led by Chaplain John McLane, a U.S. Army captain in Vietnam, attendees walked down to Town Hall, where two refurbished and three new plaques honoring New Canaan’s veterans were unveiled in the building’s new northern entrance.

The approximately $35,000 project of creating and showcasing the plaques, developed by Langenus and Dan McEvoy of the New Canaan Exchange Club, has been by funded both organizations and donations still are needed (by sending a check to either one), Langenus said.

Here are U.S. Armed Forces veterans and former New Canaanites who have passed in the past year:

George Borkin

Robert Jeffries

Robert Tolles

Alfred Dolge

Theodore Coppola

Donald Chapman

Hans Reiss

Murray Albertson

Joseph Cullinan

Tobias O’Mara

Robert Purcell

Richard Somerby

Robert Kammerer

John Warner

William McCabe

Douglas Noiles

John Farmakis

Gerald McDonald

John Swartz

Richard Wood

John DiPaola

Roger Clark

Charles Burwell

Harold Sampson, Jr.

Marie Russo

Herbert Roth

Robert Cook, Jr.

Roger Fontaine

Joel Rosenthal

John Lee

Donald Hawes

Arthur Miller

Vernon Thunem

Fred Mazzella

Joseph Crawford

Frank Dalia

Reverend William Pietsch

Louis William Sessions

Robert Baeder

Wesley Liebtag

Frederick Godley, Jr.

Kevin Carroll

Rolf Gullans

Ralph McCarthy

Donald Freud

Robert Mosley

Robert Cross

Edward Burns, Jr.

Kenneth Bouton

John Mimnaugh, Sr.

Robert Layton

William Saunders, Jr.

John LaPolla

Leon Robey

John Read

Robert Armstrong

Robert Stambaugh

Joseph King

Thomas Cassidy

Richard Heath

Reverend Roland Jones

George Stone, III

Rita Barada

Philip DuVal

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