BUCKSPORT, Maine — By the banks of the Penobscot River, about 100 people gathered Wednesday afternoon to show their appreciation for those who have served in the armed forces and to witness the official unveiling of a new veterans memorial.
The event was timed to coincide with Veterans Day as a way to honor area residents who have served in the military.
Richard Bowden, chairman of the Bucksport Area Veterans Memorial Committee, told the crowd that the town of Bucksport and the veterans in the area who joined in the effort have spent about two years bringing the memorial to reality.
“This has been a long time coming,” Bowden said during the brief ceremony. “We’re going to need a little more help between now and Memorial Day .”
David Milan, Bucksport’s economic development director, said approximately $88,000 has been raised for the project, but the goal is to raise $125,000. Nine flagpoles have been installed and six granite blocks have been erected, but organizers still hope to landscape the property by next spring. Included in the landscaping will be 103 black paving stones with the names of area veterans who died in action since the American Revolution. Many of those veterans died in the Civil War and no longer have relatives in the Bucksport area, Bowden said.
Black paving stones for veterans killed in action are expected to cost $300 each, Milan said. Other paving stones placed in honor of other veterans are projected to cost $200 apiece, he said. Final plans also call for additional pieces of granite to be added to the memorial display.
The memorial is located next to the river where Route 1 intersects Main Street in downtown Bucksport.
“We have about $37,000 left to go,” Bowden said. “We need everyone’s help to make this happen.”
According to Milan, Lane Construction, the town of Bucksport and Freshwater Stone each have contributed more than $5,000 to the project. The town of Orland, Masonic Lodge Felicity 19, Bucksport True Value Hardware and Berry’s Septic Service round out the project’s more significant donors, he said.
“Without these special sponsors, we wouldn’t be standing here today,” Milan said.
The memorial consists of six erect gray granite stones, each with a large bronze medallion of one of the service branches. Represented on the stones and on flags flying behind them are the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines.
“To honor all those who served to protect our freedom,” reads the inscription on the stones. “May they never be forgotten.”
The memorial also has taller flagpoles flying flags of the United States, the state of Maine, and in remembrance of prisoners of war. These three flags were flying at half-staff on Wednesday in honor of Marine Maj. Samuel Leigh, a Belgrade native who died last month when a Marine helicopter collided with a Coast Guard air-plane off the coast of California.
Mayor Lisa Whitney, Town Manager Roger Raymond and Oliva Jacques of American Legion Post 93 also spoke at Wednesday’s event.
“I’ve traveled all over the state, and I don’t believe you’ll find a memorial as distinguished,” Raymond said.