Dr. Philip Sumner rings the bell on the new veterans memorial at the Orr’s Island Cemetery while his son, Philip Sumner Jr., looks on. (TRACI SUMNER PHOTO)
About two dozen people turned out to help dedicate the Orr’s Island Cemetery’s new veterans monument during a solemn ceremony on a sunny Saturday, Aug. 7.
The simple granite memorial includes a bell and a flagpole and lists the names of 171 veterans of all branches of the U.S. military buried, or eligible for burial, at the historic cemetery. That includes residents, or former residents, of Orr’s Island or those with long heritage ties to it. Some of those listed are buried in other military cemeteries or at sea.
The Rev. Benjamin Wallace Jr. opened the ceremony with an invocation and Jim Jones, the Orr’s Island Cemetery Association’s president and superintendent, followed with some brief remarks.
“As we accumulate new names, they will be added to the list for future engraving on the monument,” said Jones, a U.S. Navy veteran. “We might wish that before this stone is filled with names, that the need for the kind of sacrifice documented here will fade away.”
“History, however, suggests that will not be the case,” Jones added. “Of the 171 names listed in this first engraving, only one person served out the term of service entirely in peacetime.”
An honor guard from the John Leo Murray Jr. American Legion Post 171, of Harpswell, punctuated Jones’ address with the traditional three volleys of rifle fire and the playing of taps.
The memorial was designed by Jack Sylvester, of Orr’s Island. It was built and installed by Collette Monuments, of Lewiston. Its cost of about $35,000 was a gift from two longtime residents of Orr’s Island, both veterans.
Dr. Philip Sumner, 96, a retired obstetrician and longtime island resident, was one of the people behind the effort to create the monument and a special guest at the dedication.
Sumner, a U.S. Army veteran, served for 30 months with Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army during World War II and survived the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944-1945. He rang the memorial’s bell three times to bring the ceremony to a close.
“It’s a beautiful symbol of the dedication of our American troops in all branches of the service,” said Sumner. “I’m so glad to have the chance to see it completed. Everyone involved has done a great job.”
Sumner reflected for a moment on his time in uniform: “I was very lucky. We had great leadership, from Gen. Patton right down through our line officers. I can’t tell you how many foxholes I dug. But I can tell you that I’m proud to have my name on this memorial with so many brave men and women.”
Doug Warren is a member of the Orr’s Island Cemetery Association Board of Trustees.