Washburn officially opens memorial park during Veterans Day ceremony

6 years ago

WASHBURN, Maine — Members of the American Legion Post 48, Boy Scout Troop 177 and the Rotary Club of Washburn as well as dozens of area residents braved bitterly cold winds Sunday afternoon to formally open the Washburn Area Veterans Park, a project that has been three years in the making.

For years, the Story Hill Park on Main Street in Washburn has hosted a monument dedicated to military veterans. But it was local veterans John Churchill, Dale Lavway and Dale Whitten who helped design plans for and presented the idea for a formal memorial park to the Town Council, which gave the men permission to move forward with their plans.

The veterans were unable to get much of the project completed until Troop 177 Scoutmaster Larry Harrison suggested that Eagle Scout candidates Carver Pendexter, 18, Ryan Cole, 15, and Paul Tardie III, 17, assist with the planning, fundraising and landscaping work required to make the memorial park a reality.

The Scouts completed much of their work in late summer and early fall. Pendexter assisted with the placement of three new flag poles donated by Catholic Charities and a new coat of concrete for the walkway while Cole put up fencing around the monument and Tardie helped find a company that was willing to restore a World War I era cannon.

“People in town have anxiously waited for and supported the memorial throughout the summer and it has brought the community together,” Harrison said. “For the Scouts this project is just one of the ways in which they look to serve their community.”

Although the memorial was unveiled during the Washburn August Festival, the concrete walkway and cannon were not yet ready. The folks involved decided to instead hold the official ribbon cutting ceremony on Veterans Day to honor all area veterans and give people a chance to see all aspects of the memorial.

The memorial includes three flag poles that fly the flags of the United States, the state of Maine and U.S. Armed Forces; a stone monument that bears the names of deceased veterans from Washburn, Perham and Wade from the Civil War through the Vietnam War; a concrete walkway; and two benches, one donated by Presque Isle-based Northeast Packaging Company in honor of all veterans and another donated by the family of deceased Army veteran Raydon Corey and his wife Elaine.

After the official ribbon cutting, the Scouts placed a wreath at the memorial site and stood in salute in honor of all veterans. They said that working with area veterans on the memorial park was their way of saying “thank you” to those who served.

“We thought that the park would be a good way to honor local people who served and make them known to the community,” Pendexter said.

“It was rewarding to see people become involved and to see all the hard work that everyone put into the project,” Tardie said.

The memorial also holds special meaning for American Legion Post 48 member and veteran Willy Dorst, who served in both Vietnam and Germany.

“I’m very grateful for everything that the Scouts have done to create this park,” Dorst said. “It reminds me of all the veterans I’ve known who have served.”

During next year’s Washburn August Festival, which will run from Aug. 16-18, the town plans to host the Vietnam Veteran Traveling Wall, a decision that Harrison said gained momentum due to the increased enthusiasm for establishing the Washburn Area Veterans Park.