ABBOT, Maine — Merton Carr, 77, of Falmouth traced a gloved hand Friday across his name etched in Abbot’s new black granite veterans honor roll.
The Korean War veteran had returned to his hometown to attend a dedication of the new honor roll which lists the names of the 333 men and women, including Carr’s five brothers, who enlisted from Abbot to serve the country during conflicts.
“It feels good to be able to be here today,” Carr said as he worked to steady himself with his cane. “I’m the only one left,” he said of his male siblings. All had returned home from military stints with the exception of Clifton Carr Jr., who sacrificed his life in the Korean War.
A large crowd, including the town’s oldest living veteran, James Brown, 86, of Abbot; Sen. Susan Collins; Rep. Mike Michaud; and the 195th Maine Army National Guard Band braved a raw wind and intermittent rain to dedicate the new, approximately $20,000 monument, which replaces two aging wooden honor rolls.
Replacing the honor rolls was an important priority for residents and town officials who raised the funds, according to Selectman Jan Ronco. She said two granite benches from the Cole Family Foundation were dedicated a few years ago as a place to sit and ponder the gifts and sacrifices of freedom that veterans have given and continue to give. It was then, she said, that residents felt the need to replace the two aging wooden honor rolls for a more lasting one.
“The beauty of this memorial goes far deeper than its gleaming surface and expert engraving,” Collins said Friday. “Through hard work and generosity, the people of this community have given it a special quality that comes only from dedication to a noble cause.”
Collins said it has been 93 years since the eleventh day of the eleventh month earned a place of honor on the national calendar. “Today on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year of this century, Americans are faithfully keeping this observation because we know that we cannot fully enjoy our freedom without remembering the great price at which it has been purchased.”
Michaud said the debt Americans owe to servicemen and women is “immeasurable.”
“It is because of their sacrifice and those of their families that we are able to be here today enjoying the rights and freedom that we have,” he said. The attitudes of the wounded, many of whom want to return to service, are inspiring, he noted. Veterans deserve the best possible care the country can provide them because they’ve earned it, he said. “We will never forget your service and what you’ve done for all of us.”
State Rep. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, said Friday the dedication was personal to him and his family because of relatives from Abbot who had served the country. He spoke of his uncle, the late Franklin Titcomb of Abbot, whose name is listed on his native Garland’s roll of honor, and Titcomb’s late sons Charles and Ralph of Abbot who served in the Vietnam War and whose names are on the new monument. Davis also noted the Carr family, including his wife’s father, the late Alton Carr, Merton Carr’s brother.
Also speaking during the event were state Rep. Pete Johnson, R-Greenville, state Rep. Doug Thomas, R-Ripley, and a representative from the office of Sen. Olympia Snowe.
The dedication included patriotic songs sung by Jordan Marshall, a Foxcroft Academy student, and Carolyn Amos of Abbot, and the laying of a wreath at the monument. The town had military exhibits on display at the Town Hall, and a special cancellation stamp and minted coins were available.