On Aug. 22 at Davenport Park in Bangor, a small monument and plaque were unveiled before a gathering of more than 100 people. Why? For whom? And for what purpose? As one of them, I would be most proud to attempt to answer those questions.
Fifty-five years earlier, Aug. 22, 1943, in that same park, 56 young men were sworn into the U.S. Navy. These men from nothern and eastern Maine were unique in several respects. They were all just 17 years old (save one who fibbed his age), and they were all volunteers, serving their country at the time of a great world war.
This little hunk of granite has a weatherproof marker emblazoned atop it bearing the 56 names of the members of the Bangor Victory Platoon, inscribed with their reason for being. This marker salutes these courageous young men and offers their names to all who may pause to view it. It grants to them some small piece of perpetuity they so justly deserve and their proper place in the history of the land. As one of them, if I have reached too high for our place in the sun, so be it.
These valiant young men volunteered to place their lives in harms way in defense of our nation. One of them, Gilbert Soucy of Portage, died in action with the enemy aboard the USS Wasp in the Southwest Pacific.
Twenty-four of them still survive, and 18 were able to attend the ceremonies in their honor.
I wish to thank the three local TV stations and the Bangor Daily News for their coverage. Special thank you to Jim Adams and the others who assisted him in arranging for this monument, and for the ceremony. Ray E. Hanscom Machias