PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Memorial Day last year, Maj. David Cote of the United States Marine Corps set out to meet the families of Maine's U.S. Military killed in the line of duty since 9/11. Ten months later, he's met 40 families and opened the Maine Fallen Heroes Memorial Room.
Kathy McDonald visited the memorial room on Saturday. Her son Sgt. Edmund McDonald served the Army's 82nd Airborne Division when he was killed in Afghanistan 7 years ago at the age of 25.
"Ed was amazing," said McDonald. "He was my rock."
On display, stone rocks engraved with the names and dates of those service members. Maj. David Cote of Skowhegan asked the families to donate the rocks.
"'I ask them, can you give me something? And they say, 'I don't have anything to give you.' And I say, 'yes you do. I need you to think about a very special place that was significant to your loved one whether it was a church yard, a back yard, a farmers field or a place of worship.'"
McDonald's rock came from Hacker Hill in Casco. "He loved it up there," said McDonald. "It gave him the peace that he needed."
The rock will be carried to Mt. Katahdin for a tribute hike called The Summit Project.
"It's an opportunity to say to our Maine veterans you did your job," Cote wrote on the project's website. "We honor your sacrifice. We do not forget you. Your legacy endures."
Volunteers of the hike were told watch videos about the families of the fallen to learn as much as they can about the person behind each stone, said Cote.
"These stories will help us get a glimpse of the lives of our fallen heroes, appreciate their service, and orient our own mind, body and spirit toward honoring and sustaining their memory,' said Cote.
Anyone wishing to carry the rock(s) on an expedition, or make a donation to the project, are asked to contact Maj. David Cote U.S.M.C via email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit his website http://mainememorial.org/support/