At 11 a.m. Monday, church bells rang through the cool November morning as New Canaanites held a moment of silence on God's Acre in honor of veterans.
Julie Butler, whose eldest son, Blake Flannery, is a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps., was the featured speaker of the town's annual Veterans Day commemoration. Butler spoke about what it's like for the family of a soldier deployed.
"There are sleepless nights and anxious days," she said. "Each deployment feels like Russian roulette. Will he come back with severe wounds? Will he ever come back?"
Flannery has been deployed overseas four times, including to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004. Butler said that while her two younger sons think of him as invincible, as a mother, she's all too aware of his mortality. She recalled checking up on him as an infant in the middle of the night to make sure he was breathing. She said two weeks ago he called to say his planned deployment had been canceled.
"I could hear the disappointment in his voice and he could hear the relief in mine," she said.
Even through the worry, she is happy with his career choice and proud of him, she said. She's not the only one proud of him, of course. Several years ago, when he came home from a deployment in Iraq, Police Chief Leon Krolikowski, who was captain at the time, arranged for a police escort from Exit 36 of the Merritt Parkway to the family's home.
Roughly 100 people, including veterans and town officials, gathered on God's Acre. New Canaan Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Peter Langenus officiated the ceremony, at the conclusion of which he read the poem "In Flanders' Fields," by John McCrae, as he's done for several years at the Veterans Day ceremony.
Following the event, attendees were invited to the Outback Teen Center for refreshments.
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