Monument of the Month: Darien’s Gettysburg Address monument

The Gettysburg Monument — photo by David E. Polett

The bronze Gettysburg Address plaque, dedicated on July 1, 2012, honors the 150th anniversary in 2013 of that famous speech delivered at the dedication of Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa., on Nov. 19, 1863, by President Lincoln. The Gettysburg Address Monument is located to the right of the Karl Lang Statue in Darien’s Spring Grove Veterans Cemetery.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Lincoln refers to the Declaration of Independence signed 87 years earlier and reminds listeners of the danger to those ideals posed by the Civil War. Lincoln urges “that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Then Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwartz secured the plaque for Darien explaining that the cemetery has great historical significance for both the veterans and the town, which housed the first home in the nation for veterans. Schwartz explained that she is a fan of Lincoln and she was pleased when the opportunity came up to order the plaque and get it installed. Darien’s Fitch Home for Civil War veterans and later their orphans was built by philanthropist Benjamin Fitch in 1864, and eventually relocated to Rocky Hill, Conn., in 1940.  

The present Darien Post #6933 VFW building, which was moved across the street, is the original chapel from the Fitch Home. It is the only remaining building from the Fitch Home which in 1910 housed 500 resident veterans and covered over 12 acres on Noroton Avenue and an additional two acres at Spring Grove Cemetery. The Fitch Home was located where the Darien Housing Authority has built The Heights At Darien on the former site of the Allen O’Neill Homes.

Some additional information can be found at:

darientimes.com/5578/lincolns-famous-words-now-part-of-darien-veterans-cemetery: and also: abrahamlincolnonline.org/Lincoln/speeches/Gettysburg.htm.