Members of the local VFW are calling on volunteers to help with an effort in Lakeview Cemetery this weekend.
At 8 a.m. Saturday, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Howard M. Bossa and Peter C. Langenus Post 653 will pick up the 1,300 flags placed beside veterans’ gravestones at the cemetery in advance of Memorial Day, according to VFW Commander Francis “Mike” McGlinn, an artillery officer during the Vietnam War.
“We checked with Arlington National and with the State of Connecticut VFW, and the protocol is to remove the flags before they become worn and disrespected,” McGlinn said. “Arlington does it the week after Memorial Day. An additional reason for us to pick them up now is so we can use them again next year and save $1,500.”
Those willing to help with the effort are asked to meet at 8 a.m. on July 16 near the “veterans area” of the cemetery, located off of the Main Street entrance, over the bridge and on the right-hand side of the main road through Lakeview Cemetery.
The collection comes as town officials are poised to deny the VFW’s request for $15,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
During a public hearing before the Town Council last fall, VFW member John McLane, a U.S. Army captain in Vietnam, said the organization had spent a great deal of money in recent years on the veterans’ plaques that hang inside the northern entrance to Town Hall. The main way the VFW raises funds to purchase flags and wreaths to place on the gravestones of veterans in New Canaan twice per year—by giving away poppies, a symbol of remembrance of World War I—was canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic, McLane said.
“It costs us about $12,000 to buy the wreaths alone, and we buy them from the Exchange Club to keep it in town,” McLane said at the Oct. 5 Town Council meeting, where representatives of several nonprofit organizations made their case for ARPA funding. “So this is the first year we’ve really gone out to raise funds because we’re usually able to get it when we pass out poppies on Memorial Day …. we look for a quarter here or a dollar there to try and raise the funds for what was last year $15,000. Next year will probably be $17,000, that’s our whole budget.”
McLane added, “Whatever you can do we appreciate because it’s been kind of tough the last couple of years.”
But the town decided to funnel the VFW and some other nonprofit organizations seeking ARPA funding, toward the New Canaan Community Foundation for a review and recommendations (while other nonprofits, such as the Board of Realtors, received ARPA funds—in the Board of Realtors’ case $60,000 for a little-known marketing effort—as part of an initial $2 million allocation in December).
During a meeting held July 8, members of a joint committee of Board of Finance and Town Council members taking a lead on ARPA funding recommendations decided to support the NCCF’s recommendation that the VFW’s $15,000 request was “not ARPA-related” and that funding for the organization should come directly from the town through the budget process. (In fact, former town CFO Lunda Asmani said last year that one allowable area for using ARPA funds “is to address some negative economic impacts that were due to COVID.”)
The 2022-23 fiscal year started July 1, so funding prior to next July for an organization such as the VFW likely would come either through ARPA or a special appropriation. The committee voted unanimously to support the NCCF’s recommendations, which now move to the full finance board and Town Council. (The VFW is one of five organizations whose ARPA funding requests are being referred to the town, though far smaller in dollar amount than the other four, whose requests ranged from $120,000 to $1 million.)
Some committee members said that although they had questions about the recommendations, they respected “the process” that the NCCF had undergone to reach its findings and would support them. One committee member, Amy Murphy Carroll of the Board of Finance, reiterated that sentiment during the Board’s regular meeting Tuesday, and the full Board voted in favor of the NCCF recommendations after an approximately 8-minute discussion.
It isn’t clear whether members of the Town Council will similarly sidestep decision-making in approving the ARPA recommendations for nonprofits. While finance board is an appointed body, with many members appointed during First Selectman Kevin Moynihan’s tenure, the Town Council is elected. After approving the initial tranche of ARPA funding, several councilmen in January said that they’d felt pressured to vote on the allocations as a block, and would prefer to have the ability to vote on individual items.
Town officials in the past have made public gestures in support of New Canaan’s veterans—for example, by attending the annual Veterans Day ceremony on God’s Acre and marching in the annual Memorial Day Parade. Those who have delivered keynote addresses at recent Veterans Day ceremonies include the late Steve Benko.
Private organizations have been more active in their support for the VFW. For example, last year, locals launched “Yogis Support Our VFW Day,” raising $1,210. The late Peter Langenus in 2017 said the new honorary plaques inside Town Hall—honoring residents who served during the Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm and global War on Terrorism—were commissioned, transported and installed at no cost to taxpayers, with support from the VFW itself, as well as the Exchange Club of New Canaan, Daughters of the American Revolution and American Legion. Langenus also credited former First Selectman Rob Mallozzi and Town Hall Building Committee Chair Michael Avgerinos for their support.
Mike I will hep Saturday and donate 500 towards next year in honor of my dad
How do I reach out
Thanks, Arnold. That is very generous. Here is a website where donations to the VFW may be made — https://vfwpost653.square.site — and here is an email for VFW Post 653 Commander Mike McGlinn: email@example.com
This makes me sad that our Community Foundation is not supporting our Local VFW. Our veterans deserve our support….many have given the “last full measure” for our freedoms. Thank you Mike for posting a link to donate to our local post. Hopefully New Canaanites with rally in support.
Curious why this local organizations, obviously heavily impacted by COVID, wouldn’t qualify for ARPA funding? It would appear the initial Act excluded tax-exempt organizations, but that has been changed. Other towns seem to be finding their VFW posts eligible:
https://www.townofbabylon.com/501/ARPA-Direct-Support-Program (image 12)
So we deny Veterans money for flags to commemorate their sacrifice, but gladly give $65k to some random “web design” company in Darien who makes a poorly designed website that nobody visits? Got it.
Lake view Cemetery is a Jewel in our town that probably most residents in this town have never stepped foot in. My two uncles served in the US Army. One during the Blitz in England, the other in Korea. My dad as well in post war Germany. The flags that decorate there graves symbolize the best of our town’s citizens. Between the wreath laying and the flags during the holidays is a great testament to our local VFW, and not to support there efforts is mind boggling.
I urge everyone in our community to visit Lakeview Cemetery and discover this hidden gem. When I often visit when the wreaths are laid out and the flags are waving in the breeze, it’s with immense pride knowing that they are NEVER forgotten.
$15000. is a spit in the ocean for this town for such a worthwhile cause. To not have it funded would be a travesty.
Michael DiPanni Jr.
I’m not a veteran but I never understood the connection between respect for veterans and hundreds/thousands of flags. It’s wasteful. I would rather the VFW plant a few flags and then donate/raffle the rest of the money towards the veterans. I think the veterans would appreciate it better and we would set a great standard.
You are not a Veteran. Enough said.
I was thinking the same thought – clearly they have not had anyone in their family who went to the front line to fight for our freedom.
Even so our men and women deserve this honor. Honestly who would even say something like that. As stated above – ENOUGH SAID!
Placing the flags on veterans graves is as important part of Memorial Day as the parade. The meaning is deep. It’s showing respect, honor and remembrance to veterans for service to our country… many of whom gave their lives to defend our freedoms. My uncle was killed in The Philippines towards the end of WWII. I visit his grave site every year on Memorial Day. There is always a fresh flag on his grave as a reminder of his service. It means something to me and my family and it should mean something to all Americans who believe in freedom.
I will be there Saturday to help the VFW and I hope many others will also. Perhaps it is a way to show the town how much we care about the veterans and how important they are to our community.
I am outraged that the New Canaan Community Foundation does not support our VFW ! Where is the respect for these brave men that gave of themselves to protect us and our freedom ? Our Town Leaders need to take a stand and be counted to be sure the VFW has the resources it needs to continue their service.
If I might clarify – the New Canaan Community Foundation does support the VFW. We recently made a grant to them in May, as part of our annual grant cycle that funded 78 local nonprofit organizations, with the support of many volunteers and donors giving from all across our community.
The ARPA committee that NCCF was asked to lead simply serves in an advisory nature. The committee reviewed ARPA guidelines, and then also had thoughtful conversations about the local nonprofit landscape, community needs, and the best ways to deploy ARPA funding. This process is what built the recommendations now before Town for consideration. Several organizations were assessed not to fit this specific funding opportunity, but that is not for lack of overall merit. Several, including the VFW, were handed back to Town to consider for direct support – just not to be run through the decision-making of the volunteer ARPA committee. That is not to diminish the work of the VFW or any other organizations in that category, and certainly it was the intent that they would be further considered by Town for funding opportunities.
Having just returned from retrieving the flags for recycling to save money repair then replace for Memorial Day next year. I’m appalled to read that my hometown Little Red School to NCHS 65 would not allocate a measly $15,000. to VFW after contributing so much long term to support the veterans. A handful of towns people came out. Thank you for showing support as volunteers. NC officials need to rethink their commitment to organizations that truly are worthy.
Since the town cannot afford the horrific expense of putting flags and wreaths on our veterans graves, perhaps the town fathers could simplify the Memorial Day Parade by calling it the Parade, in honor of those who made this weighty decision.
I’m flabbergasted that flags and wreaths cost $15,000, or that flags cost $1500, depending which line you read. A quick search of Amazon shows one can buy 100 flags, 8″x12″ on a 16″ stick for $49. At that price, 1300 flags would cost $637 before tax.
On The Live New Canaan web site the first restaurant that pops up is the permanently closed Baldanza at 129 Elm. I guess $60,000 from the town ARPA funding did not include on going site updating. Is anyone from the town monitoring Live New Canaan to insure content is accurate and current?
Perhaps one of those who advocated so strongly for giving the Darien marketing company $60,000 in ARPA funds—such as Town Councilmen Cristina A. Ross or Rita Bettino, or else Nancy Greenspon, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan or town employee Tucker Murphy—can step in here and answer your question, Rick.