Donated American flags gift accepted by Board of Selectmen
Darien just got a little more patriotic.
The Board of Selectmen unanimously accepted a gift from a group of residents that would 80 American flags to the town from before Memorial day through Fourth of July this year. The gift, including equipment to hang them, equates to just under $4,500.
The flags would be installed and taken down, and stored, by volunteers and those donating.
They would be displayed on Darien’s light posts that serve to display flower baskets and Christmas wreaths throughout other times of the year.
The proposers of the gift are David Hawes, Holly Hawes, and Nancy Dauk of Halstead, John Hertz, Paul Hertz, Robert Wood, and Tim Wood of Hollow Tree Self Storage, and Rob and Dave Campbell.
“On behalf of this group of patriots, Darien natives and business owners, we respectfully ask that you approve this donation request ASAP so we can have this in place for Memorial Day 2017,” Hawes wrote in his email to First Selectman Jayme Stevenson.
“We hope you will feel as we do and that this is something good to do and there is a visual for everyone in town, and those passing through to be reminded of the sacrifice made by so many and commemorate our heritage,” he wrote in his offer of the gift.
Dave Campbell, Darien’s former first selectman and Chief Operating Officer of Ring’s End, said it was Hawes idea and “he and I talked about it for a while.
“I thought it was a good idea for Memorial Day through Fourth of July. They do it upstate in Clinton and Madison and it looks very festive,” Campbell said.
Currently, Darien Boy Scouts are responsible for placing flags on every veterans' grave in Spring Grove Cemetery.
Darien has national significance in its former Fitch’s Home for Soldiers, on Noroton Avenue where the Allen-O’Neill Moderate Income Family Homes are now, was built using personal funds, by Benjamin Fitch, one year after the Battle of Gettysburg. For years it served as am example as the first and only home for soldiers in the United States.
According to historical documentation by one of Darien's town historians, Ed Schmidt, between World War I and World War II, the Commandant of the Fitch Home gave an address on Memorial Day.
Several hundred veterans would march from the Fitch Home down Noroton Avenue to the Spring Grove Cemetery. The soldiers march wearing their Civil War blue uniforms with black hats, or the younger veterans in their khaki uniforms, rank after rank of them, all very somber and thoughtful. The disabled veterans came in buses. The spirit of Memorial Day was never stronger in Darien. Here were hundreds of veterans marching to pay their respects to fellow veterans. There are over 2,000 soldiers buried at Spring Grove Cemetery.
Darien continues to honor Memorial Day with an annual parade and post-parade ceremony at the cemetery.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said she was "very moved by the generous gift of American flags for our downtown."
"We are a very patriotic community with a long history of support for our veterans and service men and women. Adorning our downtown lamp posts will be a fitting tribute to all who serve this great nation and a daily reminder of the importance of freedom and democracy," she said.