Memorial Day Parade Details

By Cordelia Webb

The Town of New Canaan and the Howard M. Bossa and Peter C. Langenus Post 653 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) are set to host the traditional Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 27th. Following the parade, a Memorial Day Ceremony will be held at Lakeview Cemetery.

Every year, this event commemorates the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, ensuring the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans. The Parade steps off from St. Mark’s Church at 9:30 am and proceeds down Oenoke Ridge Road to upper Main Street, past the Wayside Cross at God’s Acre, past the Firehouse and Town Hall, and continues down Main Street turning and entering the Cemetery through the gates on the left near Millport Avenue. At the cemetery’s flagpole, veterans, town officials, parade participants, and spectators will gather for speeches reflecting on the true essence of Memorial Day. Residents are encouraged to attend both the parade and the ceremony. Any changes to the route will be announced on

Mylinh Brewster Shattan, Photo Credit: Christine Simmons

For the first time, this year’s ceremony will have a flyover by the 118th Airlift Squadron out of Bradley ANGB with a C-130 aircraft at exactly 11am. 

Additionally, Brian van der Heyden has been chosen as the parade’s Grand Marshal. The keynote speaker for the Memorial Day ceremony is MyLinh Brewster Shattan.

Keynote Speaker: MyLinh Brewster Shattan

MyLinh Brewster Shattan, the keynote speaker, publishes and hosts a podcast where she shares exceptional writing and ideas. Her forthcoming book explores a new military tradition passed from mother to daughter. She has written for the Tampa Tribune, taught at college level, and has held significant roles in human resources and industrial relations. Shattan has also led personnel operations for the Army’s largest brigade.

Expressing her gratitude for being chosen as the keynote speaker, Mrs. Shattan stated, “It has been the great honor of my life to wear the cloth of the nation and to lead America’s soldiers. I am humbled to accept this honor on behalf of Mike McGlinn and all the members of the local VFW, past and present.”

Shattan’s speech will address current servicemembers in harm’s way, her experiences in Vietnam, and New Canaan residents involved in that conflict. She will honor seven New Canaan residents who lost their lives in the Vietnam War: Charles David Austin, Richard Oliver Bickford, David Moy Burke, Jr., Creighton Lynn Conner, Fred Andrew Lind, William Brewster Nickerson, and Howard Bruce Smith. Families and friends of these men are invited to attend the ceremony and share stories via the TreeHouseLetter contact page. More details about these servicemen can be found at

Shattan reported to West Point for cadet basic training in 1987, being part of the twelfth class to admit women. She served as a cadet captain and captain of the Women’s Track Team. Commissioned as a U.S. Army officer in the Adjutant General Corps, she served actively from 1991 to 1994 in Germany. She is Airborne and Air Assault qualified, leading her battalion’s first Nijmegen Team in the 100-mile International Four Day Marches.

Currently, she works with the military as the state coordinator for Connecticut in the Admissions Field Force for the U.S. Military Academy and serves on U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy’s nominations panel. Shattan is also an inaugural board member and Chair of the Scholarship Committee for the Night Stalker Foundation, which supports the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Shattan holds a B.S. in Mathematics and Systems Engineering from West Point, an M.F.A. in Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, and an M.B.A from Florida Southern College. Residing in New Canaan for the past 16 years with her husband Mark, she has raised three children involved in local youth sports and organizations. Her mother moved to New Canaan in 2018, and her three children currently serve on active duty in the U.S. Army.

Grand Marshall Brian van der Heyden and his son Daniel Lee, both of whom served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Photo provided by Brian van der Heyden

Grand Marshal: Brian van der Heyden

Brian van der Heyden, a lifelong New Canaan resident, graduated from New Canaan High School in 1965. His family includes six United States Marines. In 1966, van der Heyden enlisted in the Marine Corps with four local friends, completing basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina, and further training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Camp Pendleton, California. He then went to Okinawa before deploying to Vietnam, where he served in DaNang, Tam Ky, Quang Tri, Phu Bai, Gia Le, and Hue City. As a “Point Man,” he participated in over one hundred patrols, surviving the Tet Offensive in 1968.

Van der Heyden received numerous awards, including the Marine Corps Combat Action award, two Presidential Unit Commendations, the Vietnam Service Medal with four stars, and the Meritorious Unit Commendation Award. He also earned a Meritorious Combat Promotion and a Letter of Commendation from his Commanding Officer. After returning to the U.S., he obtained two degrees in Criminal Justice from the University of New Haven. His father, a decorated combat Marine, fought in World War II, and his son Daniel Lee, a lieutenant in the Fairfield Police Department, served with the 4th Marine Division.

In 2018, van der Heyden was the keynote speaker at his alma mater on Veterans Day and the Memorial Day Ceremony. A 72-year parishioner of St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church, he is a Life Member of VFW Post 653, where he currently serves as Chaplain. He is also a life member of the Marine Corps Association and supports various veteran organizations. Van der Heyden is honored to be the Grand Marshal for this year’s Memorial Day services.

Other Notable Participants

The Color Guard for this year’s parade will be from the Maintenance Service Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 25, 4th Marine Logistics Group. Reverend Gilbert Burgess, pastor of New Canaan Baptist Church, will provide the Invocation and Benediction at the ceremony.

The Line of March will be available on the Town website on May 23rd. A pancake breakfast will be held at the Masonic Lodge at 7 a.m., with hot dogs, ice cream sandwiches, and sodas provided by the New Canaan Fire Company #1 after the parade and ceremony at the firehouse on Main Street. No parking will be allowed on Main Street from 8 a.m. until the parade concludes. In case of heavy rain, parade cancellation notices will be posted on the Town website and social media, and the Memorial Ceremony will take place at Town Hall at 10 a.m. with limited seating.

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