Girl Scout Troop Helps Plant Flags for Vets


Members of Greenwich’s Daisy/Brownie Girl Scout Troop 50301 place American Flags on graves of veterans at the cemetery at the First Congregational Church of Old Greenwich. (Richard Kaufman photo)

By Richard Kaufman

For those walking along the pathway that runs through the cemetery of the First Congregational Church of Old Greenwich this Memorial Day Weekend, the colors red, white and blue are noticeable immediately to the right and left.

American flags, placed neatly at the graves of veterans who once called Greenwich home, are a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice countless men and women have made all across the country.

Last Friday, Greenwich’s Daisy/Brownie Girl Scout Troop 50301 learned a bit about that sacrifice and what Memorial Day means, when they placed those flags into the ground as part of earning their Celebrating Community Badge. The girls will also participate in the the Memorial Day Parade on Monday.

Troop Leader, Georgianna Lissauer, said it’s not only important for the young girls to recognize the veterans in Old Greenwich who made the ultimate sacrifice, but to recognize the Armed Forces as a whole. 

Andi Cosby, another Troop Leader, said the girls were engaged in finding the 190 grave sites of veterans, which were compiled into a list by church historian and webmaster, Pat Larrabee.

“They get it. They were noticing how long the veterans lived, they were trying to figure out when they would have served,” Cosby said.

The cemetery at First Congregational Church of Old Greenwich is about four acres, according to Larrabee, and burials began in 1835 when the church bought the original farmland. The cemetery features veterans who fought in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam. There are also several WWII nurses.

Clifford Henry, a veteran buried on church property, was drafted for WWI and went to basic training in Atlanta, Ga., where he met Margaret Mitchell. The two fell in love and were engaged, and Henry was sent to France where he was killed in action. Henry’s mother was given two medals of honor for his bravery. 

Larrabee said that Mitchell, who wrote Gone With The Wind, based the character of Ashley after Henry, the love of her life.

Hendrik Willem van Loon, who was not a veteran but a professor and famous author, is also buried in the cemetery. One of his books, The Story of Mankind, won the first Newbery Medal for children’s books, in 1922. van Loon later had a U.S. Liberty Ship named after him shortly after he died in Old Greenwich, in 1944.

Bob Button, who is buried at the cemetery, was a military intelligence officer in WWII and emerged from the military as a Colonel, according to Larrabee. He worked with American intelligence in General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Special Forces staff as a liaison between the Americans and the British code-breaking unit, and worked on the Enigma Machine at Bletchley Park.

Button was also a talented musician, and lead the Bob Button Orchestra, as well as the Melody Men and Buttons & Bows singing groups in Greenwich. Button passed away on Aug. 9, 2008.

Larrabee also noted that naval veteran, Carleton Gisborne, is buried at the church and was at one time the First Selectman of the Town of Greenwich. Gisborne lived in Old Greenwich. 

Last Friday proved to be an impactful outing for Troop 50301, for both the adults in attendance and the girls who planted the flags. It was a poignant, early observation of Memorial Day. 

“Memorial Day means to me to celebrate the people that were in our wars and helped us,” said eight-year-old, Mackensey Wilson. “It’s important to remember them because they helped save us and they helped save our freedom.”

For those walking along the pathway that runs through the cemetery of the First Congregational Church of Old Greenwich this Memorial Day Weekend, the colors red, white and blue are noticeable immediately to the right and left.

American flags, placed neatly at the graves of veterans who once called Greenwich home, are a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice countless men and women have made all across the country.

Last Friday, Greenwich’s Daisy/Brownie Girl Scout Troop 50301 learned a bit about that sacrifice and what Memorial Day means, when they placed those flags into the ground as part of earning their Celebrating Community Badge. The girls will also participate in the the Memorial Day Parade on Monday.

Troop Leader, Georgianna Lissauer, said it’s not only important for the young girls to recognize the veterans in Old Greenwich who made the ultimate sacrifice, but to recognize the Armed Forces as a whole. 

Andi Cosby, another Troop Leader, said the girls were engaged in finding the 190 grave sites of veterans, which were compiled into a list by church historian and webmaster, Pat Larrabee.

“They get it. They were noticing how long the veterans lived, they were trying to figure out when they would have served,” Cosby said.

The cemetery at First Congregational Church of Old Greenwich is about four acres, according to Larrabee, and burials began in 1835 when the church bought the original farmland. The cemetery features veterans who fought in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam. There are also several WWII nurses.

Clifford Henry, a veteran buried on church property, was drafted for WWI and went to basic training in Atlanta, Ga., where he met Margaret Mitchell. The two fell in love and were engaged, and Henry was sent to France where he was killed in action. Henry’s mother was given two medals of honor for his bravery. 

Larrabee said that Mitchell, who wrote Gone With The Wind, based the character of Ashley after Henry, the love of her life.

Hendrik Willem van Loon, who was not a veteran but a professor and famous author, is also buried in the cemetery. One of his books, The Story of Mankind, won the first Newbery Medal for children’s books, in 1922. van Loon later had a U.S. Liberty Ship named after him shortly after he died in Old Greenwich, in 1944.

Bob Button, who is buried at the cemetery, was a military intelligence officer in WWII and emerged from the military as a Colonel, according to Larrabee. He worked with American intelligence in General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Special Forces staff as a liaison between the Americans and the British code-breaking unit, and worked on the Enigma Machine at Bletchley Park.

Button was also a talented musician, and lead the Bob Button Orchestra, as well as the Melody Men and Buttons & Bows singing groups in Greenwich. Button passed away on Aug. 9, 2008.

Larrabee also noted that naval veteran, Carleton Gisborne, is buried at the church and was at one time the First Selectman of the Town of Greenwich. Gisborne lived in Old Greenwich. 

Last Friday proved to be an impactful outing for Troop 50301, for both the adults in attendance and the girls who planted the flags. It was a poignant, early observation of Memorial Day. 

“Memorial Day means to me to celebrate the people that were in our wars and helped us,” said eight-year-old, Mackensey Wilson. “It’s important to remember them because they helped save us and they helped save our freedom.”

About Author: Richard Kaufman

Richard Kaufman, general assignment reporter at the Sentinel, graduated from Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., in 2011 with a degree in journalism/communications. Having grown up in nearby Westchester County, Richard is familiar with the area and everything it has to offer. To get in contact with Richard, you can email him at richard@greenwichsentinel.com

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