Specially painted rocks designed to honor fallen veterans
HOULTON, Maine — While many enjoy being home for the holidays, a number of local military families will be missing someone special this Christmas after losing a loved one in the line of duty.
To help keep their memories alive, three local groups — Wilderness Walk for Warriors, Houlton Rocks! and the Greater Houlton Area Chamber of Commerce — have banded together to create and display specially designed hand-painted rocks.
“It all started when I made contact with Katie (Mountain) of the Houlton Rocks Facebook group,” said Chris Robinson, founder of the Wilderness Walk for Warriors. “I wondered how my non-profit could honor the service members with some painted rocks.”
Robinson said several artists from the Houlton Rocks group agreed to help paint images on the rocks from photographs of fallen Maine servicemen from Aroostook County.
Instead of hiding the Honor Rocks around the community, which is the focus of the Houlton Rocks group, these larger stones are now part of a roving display that will be featured in storefronts throughout Houlton in the coming months.
Those servicemen whose likenesses appear on the stones are: 1st Lt. James Zimmerman; SFC Jonathan Lowery; Cpl. Dustin Libby; Cpt. John (Jay) Barnard; Spc. Dustin Harris; Sgt. Blair Emery; SFC Aaron Henderson; Cpl. Andrew Hutchins; Sgt. Joel House; and Cpl. Joshua Barron.
The stones were unveiled for the first time at a special ceremony on Dec. 18 at Bates Fuel in downtown Houlton.
“The artists came through with some amazing results,” Robinson said.
“The official unveiling of this unique project makes us realize, especially in this holiday season, how incredibly blessed we are to have our loved ones nearby,” said Jane Torres, executive director for the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce. “It’s important that the men and woman who lost their lives fighting for our country are remembered and Houlton Rocks gives each soldier a unique perspective through the eye of the artist.”
Metal plaques, donated by Blaine Jackett of JEI Sports of Houlton, accompany each stone, along with a picture of the fallen soldier.
“This is awesome,” said James Trout of Sherman. Trout is the grandfather of Spc. Harris. “We are so grateful for everything. We can’t forget them (the fallen soldiers).”
After every two weeks, the stones will travel to a different business in Houlton for display.
Next summer, Robinson said he would be carrying the large stones with him as part of his Wilderness Walk for Warriors group which journeys 120 miles over 10 days from downtown Monson to the summit of Katahdin each July.
Following that walk, the stones will be given to their respective family members.