TASC List: Wilton past and present

The 53rd Nod Hill Parade stepped off on July 4th with floats and costumes, music and marchers. It celebrates America and patriotism, and that spirit which makes this country so special, so vibrant, and so interested in keeping the traditions alive.

Had I been a bit more creative myself, I would have entered and possibly competed for an award before the judges. What follows is what I might have said to them. As Chief Joseph returning to old Indian Hill, I’d offer a proclamation to both organizers and participants in the annual extravaganza. They deserve thanks and recognition for perpetuating the tradition and for keeping so sharp a focus on this very special place — Nod Hill — and on the larger community in which we reside. So, here’s the text.


I am Chief Joseph and some 240 years ago my family strode these gentle ridgelines, followed the abundant and clear streams, and perched upon the granite outcroppings of what you now call the Weir Conservancy. From that elevated terrain one could look southwest to the special light over the waters of Long Island Sound and breathe the moderating flow of air in every season. That light later attracted artists to this very site, whose qualities rivalled the best of our east coast from Provincetown to Key West.   

“We watched from here with a warrior’s instinct the brave militias comprised of citizen-soldiers do battle against seasoned armies, while undermanned and ill-equipped. We admired your tribal conclaves from multiple states as they gave birth to the Declaration of Independence. We marveled at the survival strengths and resilience of Washington’s army at Valley Forge.

“Now under the perpetual guidance of everyone’s Great Spirit we support the repair and repositioning of your nation’s influence in the free world. And we see the parallels between tribal councils and the sometimes stormy but often pragmatic nature of the New England Town Meeting model. Your open and searching discussions at town hall itself are oriented to solutions; they complement the legacies left by that photo wall filled with Town Fathers and Mothers.

“Wilton’s spirit shows itself in both the schools’ and local newspaper’s respect for the veterans of this town (from images, to memorials, to special assemblies). The wide-ranging good works of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars are never far from view. It resounds on the playing fields at a Friday night football game — support for the “Warriors” from friends, boosters, and a band 150 strong.   

“It spills over to the lacrosse venues, a more recent product of my people’s culture, where it was played in stream beds and hillsides, with the course sometime reaching over a mile in length. It was the premier coming-of-age ritual for the young. (See the book “American Indian Lacrosse — Little Brother of War” by Thomas Vennum for more of this flavor). Wilton’s sustained results in this sport have always demonstrated the finest aspects of preparation, conditioning, and sportsmanship, for both boys and girls.

“What sports might do for the school-age, the many trails for hiking and fitness do likewise for the adult population. And for all the rest, a more than complete Family Y, including two pools and a pond. The Nod Hill marchers mirror the Memorial Day march to the cemetery to remember past heroes.  

“So heartfelt thanks to those who show their patriotic spirit on this most memorable of birthdays. Cheers for the organizers. They gather up all that’s worth celebrating — from the quality of the light to the strength of the veterans — from the fitness of our youth to the listening and responding ability of our institutions — from the persistence of our traditions to the hopes and expectations of what we can still become.

“Hike a trail. Get to a game at the high school. Light up a peace pipe. Give thanks we’re not wintering with Washington. Join the parade.”

TASC stands for Toward A Stronger Community. Contact: brennerjoe@aol.com.