VFW Post 653 Commander Peter Langenus, a U.S. Army captain in Vietnam who also served as a colonel during Operation Desert Storm, during the Veterans Day ceremony at God's Acre—Nov. 11, 2016. Credit: Michael Dinan
Members of the New Canaan Police Department during the Veterans Day ceremony at God's Acre—Nov. 11, 2016. A list of NCPD members who are military veterans can be found here: https://newcanaanite.com/police-chief-recognizing-u-s-military-veterans-among-ncpd-ranks-44677 (Chief Leon Krolikowski also served with the U.S. Marines). Credit: Michael Dinan
New Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corps EMTs Elizabeth Oei and Pat Wood during the Veterans Day ceremony at God's Acre—Nov. 11, 2016. Wood is widow of deceased NCPD color guard memer and K-9 officer Lt. Stephen Wood, who had served as a U.S. Marine. Credit: Michael Dinan
Lisa Melland and Peter Langenus unveil the refurbished and new plaques honoring New Canaan veterans, in Town Hall following the Veterans Day ceremony at God's Acre—Nov. 11, 2016. Credit: Michael Dinan
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: