ROCKLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Veterans in the midcoast area are celebrating completion of a long-planned memorial in Rockland. The Midcoast Veterans Memorial was formally dedicated last Friday, but local people have been planning and raising money for the project for more than sixteen years.
Mike McNeil of Rockland, a Vietnam veteran himself, started the project and has continued to be its chairman ever since. McNeil says his idea was to have a monument to all veterans in the area, and feature their pictures and personal stories. That has been done through the use of special "tiles" that will cover the wall of the monument. There are 275 in place now, and McNeil says they have room for hundreds more.
The site for the memorial may be as significant as the monument itself. It is located next to the American Legion hall, on land donated by the Legion. And the land was used in 1861 for an encampment by the 4th Maine Infantry Regiment, which gathered in Rockland and then headed off to fight the Civil War.
The one photo of that camp shows a flag flying above the field, and Legion members say they believe a piece of granite ledge a short distance above the memorial was used to hold that same flag. The stone was discovered when they mowed the field before construction of the memorial. It has a round hole drilled into the top of the stone, which the veterans say was done to hold the flagstaff. A new metal flagpole stands beside it now.
Capt. David Sulin, a Navy veteran and Civil War historian from Rockland, says some 900 soldiers marched off with the 4th Maine back in 1961, and only a few hundred ever came home. "This is historic ground", says Sulin, and "an outstanding spot" for the memorial.
Those who want to visit the memorial will find it next to the American Legion Hall off Lime Rock Street in Rockland.