BANGOR, Maine — Veterans volunteered at the Cole Land Transportation Museum on Sunday — the day before Veterans Day — to educate 40 University of Maine student teachers and physical education students about the sacrifices made by those who wear or have worn military uniforms.
Those who hear the veterans tell their stories learn “freedom is not free,” said World War II veteran Galen Cole, founder of the museum on Perry Road that is home to the State of Maine WWII Veterans Memorial, Maine Military Order of the Purple Heart Memorial, Maine Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Maine Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Attendees learn about war “and hopefully leave with an appreciation and understanding of how terrible it is,” said Cole, who knows firsthand the horrors of war after losing his entire squad, five close friends from his 5th Armored Division unit, to a German tank gun on April 2, 1945.
“Some of these people will become teachers and hopefully will bring their students back,” he said Sunday. “Just now, we’re starting to get teachers who came as students.”
UMaine senior Geena Lucas, who is one of a dozen $2,500 scholarship recipients from the museum, said she was moved by what she learned from the veterans and plans to use that knowledge when she starts to teach. She took time on Sunday to thank Cole personally.
Cole and other WWII, Korean, Vietnam and war on terror veterans will take part in Monday’s Veterans Day parade through downtown Brewer and Bangor, and then the museum will host their annual student essay contest winners at 1 p.m. The Bangor Band is scheduled to start playing at about 2:15 p.m.
The Veteran Interview Program, offered through the museum, places students from all over the state with veterans to help teach youngsters about history. The students are then asked to write an essay on the topic “What freedom means to me after interviewing a veteran” and six are read at the museum on Veterans Day.
“A lot of the time people cry” when hearing the students’ essays in honor of the veterans, Cole said.
The parade will stage on Acme Road in Brewer and begins at 10:30 a.m. The route goes down Wilson Street to the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge and then turns right onto Main Street in Bangor and ends at Exchange Street.