Memorializing Civil War Veterans is the title of the Portland/ Westbrook team’s Maine Memory Exhibit and that is exactly what this team did for their final event of the year. They invited area residents, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Veterans to participate in a Memorial Day procession along Stevens Avenue. (Click on that link to see a video of the event on Community Television Network!)
Monday afternoon under sunny skies a crowd of 150+ marched from Deering High School to the Wilde Memorial Chapel in Evergreen Cemetery. In keeping with the traditions of the early Decoration Day celebrations flowers were strewn, the Civil War monument at Evergreen Cemetery was decorated and solemn speeches were made.
Bob Riley opened the ceremony at Wilde Memorial Chapel with a brief history of Memorial Day and informed people that more than 1,000 Civil War veterans are interred at Evergreen Cemetery. The Deering VFW Color Guard served as a strong visual reminder of the men and women who fought and died in service to their country.
Senator Anne Haskell shared her Memorial Day remembrances of growing up in Portland; she also spoke of the memories and legacies of her father who died in World War II when she was a toddler. Don Spear, a World War II veteran wore his father’s World War I uniform as he reminisced about both wars. A blessing by the Rev. Richard Rasner was followed by a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace” performed by members of the Claddagh Mhor Pipe Band. The ceremony ended with a bugler playing taps.
Prior to proceeding to the Civil War monument the spectators mingled and enjoyed refreshments provided by Boy Scout troop 73. Lin Brown, team member and Friend of Evergreen docent, led the way to the monument with stops to view and discuss several of the memorials on the Civil War walking tour.
Boy Scouts laid a wreath at the monument and played taps after which Herb Adams gave an educational and moving speech. He focused on Memorial Day 1914, a time of transition when Civil War veterans rode in automobiles for the first time in the parade’s history and before America was engaged in World War I.
It was a fitting way to end a year devoted to uncovering Civil War connections in Portland, Westbrook, and Evergreen Cemetery. Many thanks to Local & Legendary team members Jessica Siraco, Lin Brown, Julie Peterson, Bob Riley and Jim Dufresne for their collaborative efforts to tell the story of those buried in Evergreen Cemetery.
Thanks to Janet Lyons, Consultant Project Coordinator, Maine Humanities Council, for providing this account.