PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Army National Guard sounded off for all veterans when they marched over the brand new Veterans Memorial Bridge in Portland on June 28 singing cadence and christening the bridge after the ribbon cutting ceremony honoring Maine Veterans.
“This bridge represents two things. It represents the latest in our transportation and infrastructure needs and it also honors the brave service men and woman who have served this state and this nation so proudly,” said First Lady Ann LePage , at the dedication.
The bridge replaces the old Veterans Memorial Bridge built in 1954. Both span from Portland’s West End to South Portland and Interstate 295. The new bridge includes bicycle and pedestrian paths, architectural designs and a small park on the Portland side of the bridge with a monument representing all the military branches.
The Maine Army National Guard ensured the bridge was not just honoring Veterans in name alone. The Maine State Select Honor Guard hoisted the flag as Capt. Lisa Snow sang the National Anthem. Peter Ogden, director of Veterans services and Vietnam Veteran, laid a wreath at the base of the flagpole near the monument.
The Maine State Select Honor Guard dedicated the bridge by firing the newly restored WWII 75mm pack howitzer at the center of the bridge to kick off the ceremony and ribbon cutting.
Sgt. Peter Paradis, the youngest combat veteran from Joint Forces Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment assisted Ann LePage, cutting the ceremonial ribbon opening the bridge to Army and Air National Guard Soldiers as they led the procession of emergency vehicles, local residents, and bicyclists.
“It is very rewarding, I really enjoyed it. It is one of those once in a lifetime events that you go to, it is great for supporting Veterans,” said Paradis an Augusta resident.
LePage, an avid supporter of the military, hoped the bridge would honor all Veterans. “To all those who have served, are serving and the future generations who will serve, let this bridge be a symbol of your strength, your dedication and your fortitude,” she said.