ROCKPORT — Rev. Ralph Miller, a descendant of the first settlers along the west side of Penobscot Bay, defines the meaning of Memorial Day every year, succinctly and with heart: “From Revolutionary days of struggle through many battles on land and sea, in many parts of the world, men and women have gone forth stand for the way of life that in its best days are of the American Dream.”
Rev. Miller, now in his mid-80s, has been gifting the community with his gentle words and thoughts on the significance of Memorial Day in Maine, on the coast, and within the small town of Rockport.
He continued that tradition May 27, traveling with the annual parade as it moved down from the Rockport Post Office to Memorial Park, where the names of Rockport's soldiers who served in all U.S. wars are mounted on a granite wall.
A poet at heart, Rev. Miller commenced his three Rockport Memorial Day addresses.
“On this lawn stands a stone listing the persons who saw patriotism, liberty, and a democratic country and nation to be prized, a society of equality, where all persons were to be free, where all could pursue their dreams and gifts,” he said, speaking into a microphone that Rockport Police Officer Travis Ford handed to him from a cruiser.
The parade, lead by the American Legion Post 30’s Color Guard of local veterans, and followed by the Camden Hills Regional High School Marching Band, boy and Girl Scouts, Rockport Garden Club, firefighters and citizens, wound down and over the Goose River Bridge, pausing to pay tribute with a gun salute and a wreath tossed into the river and harbor below.
“Our ancestors came to these shores for masts for the ships, some built at this harbor,” said Rev. Miller. “Some crossed the sea to other lands to defend the rights of other peoples and nations. Here we remember and honor those who did not return to their homes here but were placed on land and sea in many lands and seas, buried unknown. We bring this wreath here. May it float to the shores unknown where they rest at peace, in sleep for their sacrifice.”
With a revery of Taps, and then an about face, the parade moved up to the lilac laden Amsbury Hill Cemetery, serene under a lawn of green.
“Those who returned from the conflicts now rest in Amsbury,” said Rev. Miller. “Among those who made their homes and spent their lives among our families.
“They looked up at the mountains from whence came their help to the beauty of nature, the stars, the skies. They breathed the air of home, went about home life, raised their families, worked their fields, built ships in the harbor, produced the lime, fashioned fabrics in the mills.
“We are those many who are their posterity. Those who are the beneficiaries of those resting in peace on this hill.”
Rev. Miller also read a poem:
Father, in the name of Jesus, I thank you for our
veterans. I thank you for their willingness to risk
all so that our nation might dwell in peace and
May they find the honor and recognition they
In the name of your divine son, I pray that you
will heal the physical and psychological wounds
some of the veterans have suffered. Bring peace to
those who mourn the loss of comrades
Father, I pray that our nation would learn to
respect and acknowledge those who have served
their country well
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