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Maine Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Maine Korean War Memorial
Mt. Hope Cemetery
Bangor, Maine


ONE MORE HILL

The Maine Korean War Memorial
Mt. Hope Cemetery
Bangor, Maine

In 1992, a group of Korean War veterans met at the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Bangor, Maine. They incorporated under the national aegis of the Korean War Veterans Association and called themselves the Burton-Goode-Sargent Chapter 1, in honor of three Maine soldiers lost in the Korean War: George R. Burton, Prisoner of War, Alan R. Goode, Missing in Action, both presumed dead, and Harry L. Sargent, Jr., Killed in Action on Pork Chop Hill.

The group¹s main goal was spelled out at the first meeting: To construct an appropriate memorial to the Korean War honoring all Maine servicemen and women, especially those who were killed in Korea.

Some of the vets had been collecting money for the national memorial, but bureaucratic wrangling led many veterans to believe that the national monument might never be built, so they were very willing to switch their efforts to a state memorial.

Committed to their task, the vets, their spouses and families, went to work raising money. They held garage sales, raffled off a car, rifle, pictures, books, doll houses - anything to raise money. They even cleaned restaurants and served as valet parking attendants. Nothing would stand in their way. Artist Wayne Allen did several watercolors depicting how the memorial might look. The paintings provided the springboard to show possible donors and the public what the group had in mind. From these original paintings, members of the Memorial Team worked with Provost Monuments in Benton, Maine to develop a plan. Members with artistic talent suggested variations from the original idea. Others suggested compromises to keep costs in line.

Meanwhile, the group searched for a site. Some veterans asserted that the memorial should go into Capitol Park across from the State House near the Viet Nam Memorial, but vandalism to that memorial and its obscure location - hidden from public view - were more than enough to make veterans seek a better site.

Maine Adjutant General Nelson Durgin approved a request from veterans to locate in the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta, but even after a site was selected, the American Legion and VFW of Maine vigorously opposed the plan. Even as the vets struggled to raise more than $60,000 to claim One More Hill, the battle of words continued with Legion and VFW officers and others who bitterly opposed the memorial being placed in the cemetery. One veteran bitterly condemned the plans, especially the pagoda-style arch which is symbolic of the Freedom Gate at Freedom Village, and is inscribed on the Korean War service medal. The Veterans Coordinating Committee would not even recognize Maine Korean War Veterans and the national Korean War Veterans Association. The opposition became so overwhelming that General Durgin was eventually forced to withdraw his offer.

There were several offers of land, including one at the Veterans Nursing Home at Hogan Road and State Street in Bangor. The potential for building at the nursing home was quashed because of a ³clause² in the charter prohibiting additional structures not directly related to the home. The other offer was too expensive.

A restless and unsettled group doggedly continued to raise funds while the Memorial Team talked with Stephen Burrill, superintendent of Mt. Hope Cemetery. Following a corporate meeting, in late October 1994 members learned they had a site.

In the spring of 1995, just before retiring, General Durgin committed the 101st Civil Engineers of the Maine Air National Guard to construct the foundations and approaches, using materials and equipment donated by generous businesses.

The memorial was dedicated July 29, 1995, two days after the national memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC. It had taken the tiny group three long years to raise the money and build the monument, just as long as it took the United Nations forces in Korea and truce negotiators to achieve an armistice on July 27, 1953. But we must not forget that a state of war still exists between North Korea and South Korea, and the United States still maintains a significant armed force in South Korea. Since the truce was signed, more than 100 Americans have been killed in savage and unprovoked clashes with North Korea. Meanwhile, we can take pride in the fact that South Korea has become one of the world¹s most prosperous and economically stable countries.

By Ken Buckley, Memorial Team Leader, 1992-1996.

The Memorial

The Maine Korean War Memorial is located on a beautiful site next to a tranquil pond in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, Maine, and it salutes all veterans of the first United Nations action since the end of the Second World War. A pagoda-like crosspiece sits atop polished granite slabs on which are engraved the names of 233 Maine men who died in Korea. More casualty figures are being uncovered by Martin O¹Brien of Augusta, and eight additional names are to be added as a result of his investigations.

The memorial provides visitors with a quick history lesson about the Forgotten War. Facing the memorial from the road, you can see the National Flag, flanked on the left by the State of Maine flag, and on the right by the United Nations flag. Just below, the flags of the five American military services are flown facing their insignias on the pagoda crosspiece. Below is inscribed a moving poem by Korea-Vet Thomas Lynn, ³Old Comrades². The polished black slab reflects the crosses on the graves of Civil War soldiers on the hill opposite.

The UN flags are arranged in descending order of battle losses, starting with the Republic of Korea, facing the flag of Turkey. The Victor¹s Walkway between the flags is paved with inscribed stones remembering veterans of all wars. There is room for many more stones, and we welcome all those who wish to dedicate a stone and become a part of this beautiful memorial. Near the front of the W

alkway the podium map facing the memorial provides visitors with a quick look at Korea and important actions.

From May through November, the memorial is illuminated, and special observances are held on Memorial Day, June 25, July 27, UN Day, Flag Day, and Veterans Day.

For information about dedication stones, write or call:

Leslie Gilbert or Carol Gilbert
Maine Korean Memorial Fund
270 Back Ridge Road
Orland, ME 04472
(207) 469-7011

Internet contact for Burton, Goode, Sargent Chapter 1, Maine, KWVA:
Paul Curtis, cib_blue@verizon.net


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