As a York native, resident and veteran I have participated in at least 30 Memorial Day parades. Fellow veterans and I have laid wreaths at every war monument in town many times and this particular monument has always held my attention. From an early age, York citizens have been told a folk tale about our Soldiers’ Monument and my curiosity got the best of me. Research found a written record composed by a committee of Civil War veterans and their sons. That record detailed their choice of this particular style of war monument in 1905. More research lead to even more information, all of which has now been assembled into this one compendium for the first time.
My purpose in seeing to the publication of the Soldiers’ Monument historic record is to dispel the myth that has surrounded this monument for time nearly out of mind. It is also an invitation to visit the York, Maine website where the complete text of this book can be found. All of the pictures are there and can be seen in much greater detail. A QR code block that can be read with your smartphone will be found in numerous places and it will take you to the appropriate page on the York, Maine web site.
This monument was chosen and described in a ledger belonging to the York, Maine Veterans and Sons of Veterans Association. It was ordered from the owner of the Quincy, Massachusetts monument company who made it out of granite indigenous to that area. In the spring of 1906, the monument was delivered by rail and set on its foundation in front of the very eyes of the men who placed the order. The keynote speaker the veterans committee chose for the dedication ceremony was none other than Maine’s own Civil War hero and four times elected governor Major General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. This soldier led the 20th Maine Regiment and defeated the Confederate soldiers on Little Round Top, a pivotal battle at Gettysburg.
For York’s Civil War veterans, the Spanish American War, the Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Rebellion were the military conflicts at this time in history. As a veteran, I understand why they chose to honor their current military while paying tribute to their fellow veterans whose war was fought years in the past. We still do the same thing every Memorial Day.