ROCKLAND — Due to construction near the intersection of Park and Main streets in Rockland, the city’s annual Memorial Day Parade was cancelled. But no one can ever cancel acknowledgment of the sacrifices made by those who’ve passed.
On a mostly sunny, Monday, May 27, a crowd of all ages directed their attention toward a flag in Chapman Park. With palm to the heart, fingers to the forehead, and harmony to the wind, communal recognition carried forth along the morning breeze.
Speakers thanked Veterans of all services and conflicts, yet dedicated special attention on WWI.
June 5 and 6, 1917 – 102 years ago – two Rockland natives became the city’s first sons to enlist. One year later, both suffered mortal wounds in separate June battles.
Pvt First Class Arthur E. Winslow was born June 15, 1895, and enlisted June 6, 1917. He was mortally wounded, June 16, 1918, passed away July 6, 1918, and is buried in France.
Lt. Albert D. Holbrook was born January 26, 1896, and enlisted June 5, 1917. He was mortally wounded June 6, 1918, passed away June 19, 1918, and is also buried in France.
“Back then, before cameras remembered color, blood flowed gray on foreign land,” said Carol Bachofner, in her poem In Memoriam, the lost of WWI. “Back then, the War Office notified families by telegram or presence on the doorstep. Sons lost. Brothers, husbands, fathers, lost....A little piece of war shadow chills the day, covers us all today....A lifetime of honorable bodies scattered like seed on the fallow ground of war.”
Those Rockland sons have passed on, but not forgotten, thanks in part to Winslow-Holbrook-Merrifield American Legion Post 1, in Rockland, which received its charter on June 26, 1919.
“It’s hard to believe that this post has been around for 100 years,” said Bob Ruger, historian for the American Legion. “I pray that it will be around for another 100 years, so that we can continue doing these.”
In fact, the Post participated in its first Memorial Day on May 30, 1919, before the charter became official.
“It is important to us Veterans and Legion members to honor our past and those who gave their lives for America,” said Ruger. “There’s no greater sacrifice. Americans have been putting their lives on the line since the beginning of the United States, and will continue to do so.”
The Midcoast Area Veteran’s Memorial Wall is located on the grounds of Rockland’s American Legion. It’s dedicated to Veteran’s and all Veteran families from all wars and conflicts.
“The memorial was created to give the Midcoast Maine community a place to reflect and honor the veterans and their lives,” said Ruger. “Take a walk, and look over all of the tiles. You may be surprised to find a family member somewhere there.”
Tiles can still be added.
For others, memories and recognition shared at Chapman Park allowed for a few moments to pause, reflect, converse and unite with the help of Walter Hutchins, Marlene Hall and the Bay Winds Ensemble, Honor Guards from Rockland Coast Guards Station and Marine Corps Majors Post 637, Reverend Lael Sorensen, Poet Carol Bachofner, Master Sergeant retired Horace Benner from the U.S. Air Force, Owls Head Transportation Museum, Rockland Police, and Rockland Fire and EMS.
“All of the Veterans present and past, we thank you so much for your service and the continued service,” said Walter Hutchins.
Reach Sarah Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org