The Drum Hill Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has created a beautiful contemplative Never Forget Garden, at Hillside Cemetery (165 Ridgefield Rd.), as part of the national recognition of the 100th Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The effort is in reverent tribute to veterans, active military, first responders and their families, now and for all time.
Residents are invited to the ribbon cutting for the garden, which will take place immediately following the Hillside Cemetery Memorial Day Ceremony at the conclusion of Wilton’s Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 30. The parade begins at 10 a.m., and the ceremony is scheduled to start at 11 a.m.
Drum Hill DAR members wanted to participate in the Never Forget Garden effort as a gift to Wilton residents who have served and are serving.
The Wilton garden will be listed in the National Registry of Never Forget Gardens.
The professionally-designed 22-foot circular garden sits on top of Hillside Cemetery, nestled between the junction of Hillside Dr. and West Ave., at a quiet and reflective spot, provided by Wilton Congregational Church. There will be seating for peaceful meditation overlooking unique and symbolic plantings — white roses for sacrifice, like the bouquets presented to blue and gold-star families; a redbud tree for brotherhood; and yellow flowers signifying friendship.
The Wilton Garden Club partnered in the design of the garden and donated the main tree, a lovely tall Ruby Falls Weeping Redbud (cercis canadensis).
“I would like for people who come to this Never Forget Garden at Hillside Cemetery to remember those who gave sacrifice, starting with the American Revolution. Those of us in the DAR, our ancestors gave us the freedoms that we [all] have today. And those who still sacrifice are letting us live our freedom. Without them, we [wouldn’t] have our freedom,” Lee Ann Schneider, the Drum Hill DAR Regent, said.
With 18 former Revolutionary War soldiers buried at Hillside, and dozens more veterans and soldiers of every war and conflict since then through Afghanistan, Wilton’s visible cemetery is a reverential and historic place.
Pamela Brown, Wilton Congregational Churches Executive Administrator for the cemetery said Hillside is a fitting place for the tribute garden.
“Hillside is a place of solemnity and reflection and contemplation. It’s also a place to remember and memorialize loved ones and think of happy times as well. So we’re hoping that this garden will invite families, community members, friends, relatives as a beautiful, comfortable place to come and reflect. Hillside is a solemn place, but we would also like for it to be a place of joy where you can remember your loved ones’ lives,” Brown said.
The Wilton Garden Club members were eager to partner with Drum Hill DAR in the project and support another Wilton nonprofit that adds so much to the community.
“You know what flowers do, they make you smile. We say in the Wilton Garden Club that we’ve been delivering smiles for 100 years. Flowers make people comfortable. They make them happy. So when people come to this garden, they’ll sit, they’ll remember, and they’ll look around and be very comfortable remembering those that they’ve lost and those that they know who are currently serving,” said Nan Merolla, who is both past president of the Garden Club and vice-regent of the Drum Hill DAR.
Schneider explained that the DAR is open to any woman age 18 and over who can trace her lineage back to someone who aided in the American Revolution. “It does not mean that you fought in the Revolution, you could have done any number of things in the Revolution,” she said, adding, “We are a non-political organization open to all people, all women of all races and creeds.”
She added that the chapter is grateful for the wide array of contributors from the community that made the garden possible. With some additional work to complete, including installation of benches and a marker commemorating America’s 250th anniversary, and ongoing maintenance, the Drum Hill DAR is hoping to fundraise an additional $3,000.