In anticipation of Veterans Day on Sunday, Nov. 11, all schools in Darien will be honoring the nation’s and community’s veterans. It is a day where those whom children know as father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, aunt and uncle, brother or sister, can be recognized as people whose sacrifice and willingness to serve the country, exemplify the qualities we should instill in our children.

In 1918, the cessation of fighting on the Western Front occurred at 11 a.m. Paris time, on the 11th day of the 11th month. This was in accordance with the armistice signed at 5 a.m. that morning in Compiegne, France. In 1919, ceremonies were held in the United States, England, France and Belgium to commemorate the date and time of the implementation of the armistice agreement. Since 1954, we commemorate it as Veterans Day, observed at the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month. This year is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice.

While Veterans Day is a reminder to thank those living veterans we see in our daily lives, it is also a time to remember those who have left us and the legacy of honor and devotion they have given us. Darien lost eight men in World War I. Six of them died of disease either here in the States or overseas. Edward Punzelt, Wilfred Lowndes, Murtagh C. McDonald, Martin Hall Gill, Lawrence Callahan and George Straka all died of disease, either the Spanish Flu which was rampant during the war or pneumonia.  George Straka was overseas, fought in the trenches and died in Merginac, France of pneumonia. His body was repatriated to the United States and he lies buried in Spring Grove Cemetery. 2nd Lieutenant David Charles Bispham lost his life in a training accident as he flew for the British Royal Flying Corps which he had joined before the United States entered the war. He is buried in Kensal Green, St Mary’s Cemetery, in London, England. Lt Ernest Francis Sexton was killed in action as he manned his forward observation post at Premont, near Chateau Thierry, on June 4, 1918. His remains were returned to this country in 1921, and he was buried in the family plot in Waverly, Mass. All of these men and the veterans who have gone before and those who are with us today deserve our thoughts and prayers as we approach Veterans Day 2018.

As in the past, when Veterans Day falls upon a Sunday, there is no formal observance by the Town of Darien on that day. However, it is hoped that the local houses of worship will take some time to allow their parishioners a moment to reflect on the legacy of our veterans and what they mean to us as a Country. In passing our time on Sunday, we should all take note and give thanks for what our veterans have done and continue to do for us, in this great country of ours.

— Dave Polett, Chairman, Monuments & Ceremonies Commission

St. Luke’s to host musical performance Nov. 11


St. Luke’s Parish in Darien will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, ending World War I, with a performance of Gabriel Fore’s “Requiem” on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 10 a.m.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, “the Great War” came to an end. At that same moment, 100 years later, this service will also honor the memory of those who died with a reading of John McCrae’s famous poem, “In Flanders Fields.”

Later in the day, a special concert will be held at 4 p.m. featuring what organizers say are two of the region’s most distinguished and entertaining men’s vocal ensembles with alumni from of their former college groups at Amherst, Brown, Hamilton, Princeton, Trinity, UNH, Williams and Yale, among others.

“The Conn Artists is a highly acclaimed seven-member men’s a cappella group based in Fairfield. Four of the Conn Artists grew up in Greenwich, but none is a professional musician, nor butcher, baker or candlestick-maker,” a press release said.

Also performing will be The Ten who have their roots in the 100-voice University Glee Club of New York City, which was founded in 1894 to preserve the tradition of male glee club singing. To mark the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, the Ten will Sing Stephen Chapman’s setting of In Flanders Fields and the two groups will jointly sing Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria.

Donations at the door will benefit the St Luke’s Friends of Music. A reception will follow. Both events will be held in St. Luke’s Parish church, 1864 Boston Post Road.