New Canaan salutes those who served
It was the 11th hour of the 11th day of 11th month that the guns fell silent for World War I, and that is when people of New Canaan traditionally gather at God’s Acre to honor the veterans.
Many of those at the ceremony were remembering the late VFW Post 653 Commander, Peter Langenus, who usually led the memorial every year, and led it for his last time 2019.
Wednesday’s ceremony was led by the new commander VFW Post 653 Commander Russell Kimes III, who is also the assistant fire chief and Emergency Management director.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan dedicated his readings, written by former U.S. Rep. John Linder of Georgia, to Langenus.
“Through our history, those in military service have protected the values and liberties that this nation was built on. And they continue contributing to American society far beyond their time on active duty,” Moynihan read.
“They become our nation’s police officers, firefighters, teachers, scientists, entrepreneurs and public servants. They are among the most civic volunteers working in local organizations across the county,” he said.
Another veteran remembered was American Revolutionary War Capt. Stephen Betts of New Canaan. Lisa Melland of the Hannah Benedict Carter Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution said she has been researching him and the local chapter has been creating a video about him.
New Canaan’s most “illustrious” Revolutionary War Veteran will be part of America’s 250, a commission set up to celebrate America’s 250th year in 2026.
Betts “had done so much to aide in the cause of American freedom,” Melland said. “On his own account he fought in 13 revolutionary battles,” and she has found evidence that he was at Valley Forge and at Yorktown.
He received “a commendation from George Washington for his valiant efforts at the Battle of Norwalk,” Melland said.
The local DAR also learned that Betts had a slave called Jessie Betts, who is buried near him in St. Mark’s Cemetery, located at the corner and Weed Street and Sunset Hill Road.
“We have now included full researched information about Jessie Betts in the video,” she said.
“Over the next years our chapter will do a deep research dive to determine other enslaved individuals, and patriots of color who are buried here in New Canaan,” Melland said.
The national Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution DAR “established the Forgotten Patriots in the 1980’s, to focus on the important contributions made by African American, indigenous peoples and individuals of mixed heritage who supported the American revolution,” Melland said.
Moynihan introduced the main speaker for the ceremony, Tyler Nash of Darien, and shared his biography.
Nash is a former U.S. Army Infantry Officer, who has been awarded commendations for both Joint Service and service in the Army, as well as across two separate Afghanistan Campaigns. He completed his service at the rank of captain.
Nash entered military service after receiving a full Army ROTC scholarship to Fordham University in 2008 and was recognized as Fordham’s Distinguished Military Graduate in 2012.
He was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division and deployed to Eastern Afghanistan, where he became platoon leader. Nash was selected for a special operations assignment to the 75th Ranger Regiment.
His final assignment was to the 1st Armored Division’s where he represented an installation of over 33,000 as a participant in the 2018 David E. Grange, Jr. Best Ranger Competition.
Nash thanked VFW Post 653, which “offered nothing but support and a helping hand during my own transition to civilian life.”
“Aside from my own wife and son, I have never learned more about family than from my men in Alpha Company 214 infantry of the 10th Mountain Division, from the community surrounding the 1st Armored Division, first Striker Brigade, and from my brothers in the 75th Ranger Regiment.
“While today we proudly salute the service of all of our veterans, we must remember those who gave all, those who haven’t been found and those who are currently in harm’s way,” he said.
“We must remember those on the streets and those who struggle to see the light of each new day,” he said.
“Service and sacrifice do not span the course of a single holiday each November. Our armed forces stand ready to defend this county at all hours and on every day of the year. Let Veteran’s Day be a day that refreshes those thoughts for next 365 days,” Nash said.
“Ask a veteran about their service and ask why it mattered to them,” he said.
In civilian life, Nash is an associate director at UBS Investment Bank within their Equity Capital Markets team in Darien.