BUCKSPORT – A plan to create a veterans memorial is ready to move ahead now that the town has given its blessing to a concept design.
Town councilors last week accepted the design presented by a committee comprised of veterans and community members working with an architect.
The design grew directly from the committee members, according to Richard Bowden, commander of the American Legion Post 93 in Bucksport, who has been a proponent of the memorial.
“We didn’t like the original designs the architect came up with,” Bowden said Thursday. “So we started brainstorming; somebody would come up with an idea and someone else would throw in another. Pretty soon it started coming together.”
The design honors all five branches of the country’s armed services and the U.S. Merchant Marine, and the area residents from Bucksport, Orland and Verona who served in them, Bowden said.
The centerpiece of the memorial is a wall 6 feet tall and 24 feet long containing six individual pieces of granite, one dedicated to each of the branches of service. The corresponding flags, plus the American flag, state of Maine flag and the MIA/POW flag, will be located in an arc behind the wall.
On the ground, in front of the service branches wall, there will be a large V formed with smaller stones. Initially, Bowden said, they included the V shape as a design simply to dress up the front of the memorial.
“As we looked at it, it seemed to make sense to use that to recognize those who served from each war,” he said. “The ‘V’ could maybe stand for ‘victory’ or for ‘veteran’; whatever it might mean to whoever is looking at it.”
The stones forming the V will honor those who served in different conflicts over the years, he said. Inside the V, smaller stones will bear the names of those who died in action.
There also will be an opportunity for veterans to include their names on individual stones set in the ground outside the V blocks. There likely will be a fee to be included in that portion of the memorial, but that has not been determined yet, Bowden said.
A veterans memorial has been talked about for a number of years, but, until now, it has always remained on the back burner, Bowden said. Finally, veterans will have, not only a memorial, but also a park, to honor their service.
“It’s important,” said Bowden, himself a veteran, having served in the Navy during the early 1960s. “Everybody would like to have something to memorialize their efforts and commitment to their country. We always know we have to pay tribute to them and what they did in the service. For us, it’s just like going to the cemetery for relatives. It’s something that has to be done.”
Although there was some discussion about locating the memorial on the town waterfront, the committee has recommended that it be created on town-owned land near the corner of Broadway and Nicholson Avenue. The site is near the town’s schools and will make a good spot to remember the area’s veterans, Bowden said.
“The site will be private and if someone wants to just sit on a bench and reflect, they can do it,” he said.
With the veterans memorial park located off Main Street, it will provide a good spot for a memorial program at the end of a parade, Bowden said.
The committee is just starting to look at types of granite to use for the memorial, but have not yet determined how much the project will cost. Town councilors are expected to formally confirm the use of the town lot for the project later this month.
Although the use of town property and town crews to prepare the site will lower the overall cost of the project, the committee will have to raise most of the funds to purchase the materials and have the engraving done. They have not yet kicked off the fundraising drive, he said.
Bowden said there is no timetable for construction, yet. He said the committee will work out the details with the town manager.