WCCC Honors Veterans with Memorial Walkway

October 15, 2015

DSC_0006Of all the states in the union, Maine ranks in the top three for having the highest percentage of veterans. In fact, one in ten adults in Maine is a veteran—highlighting exactly how much the residents of our state value military service. Far from being a new trend, Maine was the northern state with the highest rate of per capita participation in the Civil War.

In modern day Maine, our tight-knit communities of extended families directly feel the consequence of sending each loved one to serve in the military. Upon completing their active service, veterans are warmly welcomed home, where they often make significant contributions to their communities through civilian or volunteer work.

Ten years ago, under the direction of Bill Cassidy and Kent Lyons, Washington County Community College decided to honor area veterans by dedicating space to a Veterans Memorial walkway directly in front of the school. After a significant amount of fundraising and project planning, the memorial was officially unveiled in October of 2011. At its crest sits a young tree with a stone marker in front of it bearing the words “Planted in April 2005 by children and grandchildren of area veterans.” The walkway is lined with bricks engraved with the names of veterans as well as blank ones waiting to be claimed. The names are all familiar to the community—Beckett, Binda, Lyons, and Sivret among them.  Other bricks are intentionally encompassing, such as one that reads “In memory of all who have served from Milltown, Maine”. Along with the names of honored veterans, each brick is engraved with the wars they served in, vividly illustrating how one small community can be so impacted by battles waged in lands so far away. On either side of the bricks, two granite benches donated by Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor are etched with words to remember: “Freedom is not free,” and “All gave some – Some gave all.”

“Most memorials are for the dead,” WCCC Academic Dean Alex Clifford said. “This one is a bit unique in that the intention is to honor those who have served rather than just the deceased.” As a Command Sergeant Major, Clifford himself has been in the service for 27 years—and he plans to purchase a brick to honor the service of his father and grandfathers.

Clifford regards the location of the memorial to be particularly appropriate. “Having it at the forefront where people walk by it each day reminds us why we can have this college. The values and freedoms we enjoy today are due to the men and women who entered the service to preserve them.”

Engraved bricks may be purchased to honor the service of veterans for a cost of $50. All of the proceeds from sales contribute to a scholarship fund for WCCC students. To purchase a brick via mail, send a check made out to WCCC Veterans Scholarship to Tina Erskine, Washington County Community College, One College Drive, Calais, 04619.