WINSLOW – Not long after POW/MIA Recognition Day, a new memorial was unveiled Saturday here in Maine. It honors those who suffered while imprisoned, and the veterans whose families still don’t know what happened to them.
“What started as a small idea, turned into something just phenomenal,” said Debra Couture of the memorial. She said she belongs to the Litchfield American Legion Post.
The Maine Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Memorial was dedicated Saturday. People joined together in Winslow to honor more than 450 Maine veterans still unaccounted for.
“One of the critical parts of the American Legion is make sure that we do not forget those POW‘s and MIA‘s,” said Bill Oxford, the national commander of The American Legion.
For some, the memorial is personal, like for the commander representing Bar Harbor’s American Legion post.
“One of our auxiliary members – her brother is on the wall, George Hout…he went down in an airplane during World War II, and he was never heard of again,” said Barbara MacPike, the Bar Harbor post commander.
The memorial is the culmination of two years of construction and donations. It lists the veteran’s name, branch of service, and where they served. The gold stars mean something too.
“As we were building this, one member was repatriated back to Maine, so we signify that with a gold star,” said Matthew Jabaut, the commander of the American Legion Dept. of Maine.
“Part of the purpose of POW/MIA Day is to have every one of those have a gold star because we brought them home,” said Rep. Jared Golden, a veteran and congressman.
One American Legion vice commander was there to see her uncle’s name, Lawrence Pierce, whose plane crashed during World War II. Debra Couture said the curved shape of the memorial makes an echo noise.
“I say eerie feeling but it really does echo back when you say something. It’s kind of like talking to them and telling them that we won’t forget you,” she said.
The memorial is outside of the American Legion Dept. of Maine Headquarters in Winslow for anyone to visit.