For every veteran: Wreaths Across America total reached in Darien

Wreaths in Spring Grove Veterans' Cemetery in Darien, placed as part of Wreaths Across America

Wreaths in Spring Grove Veterans’ Cemetery in Darien, placed as part of Wreaths Across America

Contributed photo

DARIEN — After a shortage last year for wreaths in Darien’s Wreaths Across America event, despite the challenges of the pandemic and fundraising, all the veterans in town’s cemetery will receive a wreath on Dec. 19.

As of Monday, which was the last day to sponsor wreaths, the goal of 2,184 wreaths had been surpassed. Any wreaths that went past the goal will be used for next year’s ceremony.

The ceremony will be held at noon Dec. 19 in Spring Grove Veterans Cemetery on Hecker Avenue unless the state’s COVID gathering restrictions change.

Wreaths Across America has grown to become a worldwide organization, but its three core values remain: To remember the fallen; honor those who serve and to teach children the value of freedom. When placing a wreath, participants are urged to say the name of the veteran aloud.

Two of the last four years, funds were collected locally and a donation from an anonymous donor allowed each of the 2,184 veterans’ graves in Darien’s Spring Grove Veterans Cemetery to be covered. Veterans in Darien’s cemetery go back as far as the Civil War.

Spring Grove Veterans Cemetery is the oldest of three official Connecticut veterans cemeteries with the other two located in Rocky Hill and Middletown.

In 1864, local philanthropist Benjamin Fitch, built the first veterans’ home in the United States, here in Darien. Benjamin Fitch purchased land for the Spring Grove Veterans Cemetery when the Civil War soldiers who resided in the Home needed a fitting nearby burial place. The Fitch Home for Soldiers and their Orphans was located on Noroton Avenue where The Heights in Darien is built. The VFW Post No. 6933 building is the former chapel from the original Fitch Home and was moved across the street to its present location when the Fitch Home was demolished.

Darien’s history with the Wreaths Across America Project dates to 2006.

This year, Wreaths Across America has 2,525 locations receiving wreaths and 3 million volunteers, many of them children, according to former organizer Karen Polett.