War monument at Hermon Corner to get new home

Posted Aug. 22, 2010, at 6:56 p.m.

HERMON, Maine — The town’s Soldier’s Monument, which has stood sentry at Hermon Corner since 1901, soon will be relocated.

The move is the result of several years’ worth of discussion as well as a lengthy decision-making process that included public meetings and a survey, Town Manager Clinton Deschene said Friday.

Residents made the final decision in June, when they voted 610-526 in favor of relocating the monument, erected in honor of the town’s Civil War veterans, to the Veterans Memorial Park.

Though controversial, the repositioning will help simplify planned improvements at the intersection of Billings Road and Route 2, where the monument now stands, he said.

The move could occur as soon as this week, according to Larry Davis, a Vietnam veteran and chairman of the Veterans Memorial Park Committee.

Though Davis acknowledged last week that some residents oppose the move, “I think when it’s all said and done, Veterans Memorial Park will become a destination.”

The park, located on the grounds of Hermon Middle School, houses another stone monument dedicated to those who are serving or have served in the military, as well as a gazebo. The town is developing walking trails nearby.

The committee has picked out a hilltop spot overlooking the park as the site for the Soldier’s Monument, Davis said.

Deschene said that once the move is made, the site will be landscaped and a wrought iron fence much like the one that originally surrounded the structure will be installed.

He also said the town plans to install light fixtures and plant Liberty elms nearby.

According to a listing of Civil War monuments on the state of Maine’s website, the Soldier’s Monument was installed in 1901 and was made from granite obtained from a local quarry.

It cost $905.88, $500 of which was contributed by the town and the rest by the local chapter of the Women’s Relief Corps.

The town has budgeted $6,500 to move it, Deschene said Friday.

Davis said that Rogan’s Memorials, which did the original installation work, has been tapped to tackle the move, which he firmly believes will improve the community’s access to the monument.

A lot has changed in Hermon since the monument was installed, Davis pointed out.

“They probably hadn’t even heard of cars back then. They had no idea” how much the town would change or how much traffic, then limited to pedestrians and horses, would change.

“In the last 40 years or so, it hasn’t really received the respect that it should,” he said. “I would rather have one person a day [visit the monument to reflect and remember] rather than 1,000 people in cars go by it” without giving it a thought.

The committee’s plans for the park don’t stop there, however. Davis said the group also would like to add military equipment from each of the country’s wars as well as educational signs.

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