Litchfield Ribbons: ‘support keeps growing’

November 23, 2021

From the Republican American:

First Selectman Denise Raap has made an official plea for the five yellow ribbons the Green to remain.

Rapp, in a letter written on behalf of the Board of Selectmen, has asked the Borough of Litchfield Board of Warden and Burgesses to reconsider its recent decision requiring removal of the ribbons by Jan. 2, 2022.

Raap’s letter, dated Thursday, encourages the borough board to consider comments expressed by residents since its vote in September.

The ribbons have been tied to five trees on the center section of the Green since 2010 in support of residents serving in the five branches of the military.

“Over the years and especially during these last two months, our residents have shared that the yellow ribbons have provided a feeling of pride and comfort as a symbolic sign of support for our active duty servicemen and women, regardless if they are involved in active combat,” Raap wrote to the borough board. “For many in our community, the yellow ribbons signify a strong community and united commitment to support all of the branches of the military.”

Selectmen on Tuesday directed Raap to pen the letter after hearing from several residents during their meeting at the Litchfield firehouse.

Val and Leslie Caron of Bantam, whose son, Mark, serves in the Air Force, attended the meeting and commented on the 11 years they’ve spent maintaining the ribbons under the terms of a compromise with the borough board in 2010.

“We’ve gotten phone calls of support and a lot of positive comments from people since the meeting,” Leslie Caron said Friday. “Support keeps growing. The love we are feeling from this town and beyond is unbelievable.”

One phone call came from singer Tony Orlando, who wrote the hit song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree” in 1973. Orlando called Wednesday from his home in Branson, Mo., Leslie Caron said.

“He wished us luck and expressed thanks for our son’s service,” she said. “He’s such a gentleman and he still performs all over the world in support of our military.”

According to Senior Burgess Gayle Carr, who made the motion for removal, the ribbons have been up long enough and are no longer appropriate because the Green has a new monument listing residents who have served in the military since 1990.

Raap, in the letter, said while she understands the borough board’s resolve to protect the integrity of the Green, the board must realize the importance of listening to the concerns of residents not only from the borough but also from the rest of town regarding the National Historic Landmark.

“I believe it is important for all of us who have been elected to serve the people to listen to the people and take into consideration the wishes of our residents as we make decisions that will affect our entire community,” Raap wrote.

Raap suggested the borough board consider explaining the reasons behind its decision. The board made the decision without a full complement of burgesses and without Warden Dirk Patterson present.

Carr, Barbara Ellis and Barbara Witty, all of whom were elected to the board last May, voted for removal. Burgess Peter Vermilyea was opposed.

The ribbon issue, Raap added, has created opportunity for the town and borough to collaborate on community building and providing more open government. “Please consider continuing the dialogue so that our shared community feels heard, understood and represented,” Raap wrote.