BANGOR, Maine — Fifteen years after the Maine World War II Memorial was installed at Cole Land Transportation Museum, a granite monument naming all 112 Bangor men killed in the war will be dedicated during Veterans Day ceremonies.
Museum founder Galen Cole, a Purple Heart veteran who attended Bangor High School with several of the men listed on the memorial, said Thursday that two World War II veterans who are active volunteers at the museum will unveil the monument at the 1 p.m. program on Monday, Nov. 12, next to the state memorial at 405 Perry Rd.
“The event will include the reading of the names of all 112 men,” Cole explained, “and as each name is read, family members and classmates of each one are invited to stand in honor of the loved one they lost.”
The dedication will fulfill a pledge the city of Bangor made in its 1945 city report: to erect a memorial honoring those who gave their lives from Bangor during World War II. The City Council commissioned a Book of Honor, with the Bangor Public Library compiling a volume honoring the men by gathering a photo and information on each from his family. Local history librarian Bill Cook has worked to update the volume, and the book is open to a different page each day in a glass case on the library’s main floor.
But the monument itself was never erected. This summer, as the final reunion of World War II’s 5th Armored Division was held in Bangor, Cole continued to talk about wanting to see the Bangor men honored publicly, just as one wall in the museum’s 5th Armored Division Room lists that division’s war dead.
Cole said that as plans came together to erect the Bangor monument, he was pleased to find that interest in the project extended beyond those who are old enough to remember World War II.
Mayor Cary Weston, who wasn’t yet born when Cole served as Bangor’s mayor in 1958, has publicly endorsed the memorial project and solicited a substantial amount in pledges from businesses and other community members. Weston also has agreed to serve as master of ceremonies for the monument’s dedication.
Cole has sent a special invitation to the event to Bangor World War II veterans on the list of Mainers who have walking sticks distributed by the museum. But, he emphasized, the public is welcome, and he hopes veterans of all ages will come for the dedication.
The Cole Museum will hold its annual Veterans Day program, with Gary Cole as master of ceremonies, at 1:30 p.m. in the museum. Winners will be awarded in the traditional essay contest for students who interviewed a veteran this past year while attending the museum with their class. After the program, the Bangor Band will give a concert of patriotic music. The museum will close for the season at 5 p.m. Nov. 12, reopening next year on May 1.
Cole offered a reminder that the Veterans Day Parade will begin at 10:15 a.m. Nov. 12 on Wilson Street in Brewer. All veterans are welcome to march by war era, or ride on a Cyr bus if they cannot walk the route. Those who have a walking stick for World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War or the Global War on Terror are asked to bring them.
The Cole Museum has given out more than 8,000 walking sticks to Maine veterans of those war eras in recent years. Walking sticks are available to Maine veterans who come to the museum with ID and proof of military service from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Nov. 12.
For more information on Cole Land Transportation Museum, call 990-3600 ext. 13, or visit http://www.colemuseum.org.