Opinion

William and I memorialize D-Day 2019

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Yesterday my iPhone chimed; a text message from a family member at work. “Is there any chance you might be able to pick up William from school today?” William’s aunt was supposed to drive the 10-year-old home, but something came up.

When I drove up in front of William’s school, he was standing outside holding his backpack.

Lakeview Cemetery is on the way to William’s home. “Do you mind if we stop and look at the cemetery?” I asked. William didn’t mind. I parked outside the small cemetery. We walked in over mushy ground.

“I want to see any American Revolution veterans buried here. I take pictures of their headstones and post them in my Facebook album,” I explained.

“Why?” asked William.

“Because they fought to win our freedom,” I said. “I want them remembered.”

“They fought against Great Britain,” William said. He’s a smart kid.

“Right,” I said. “At the time, Great Britain had the world’s most powerful military.”

I pointed ahead a few feet to a slate headstone with American Revolution veteran metal grave-marker and American flag. The headstone inscription said:

JEREMIAH TOWLE
died December 9, 1835;
aged 77

William did the math. Jeremiah Towle was born in 1758.

“The American Revolution started in 1775,” I said. “How old was Jeremiah Towle when he fought in the American Revolution?”

William was quiet, running the numbers in his head: 1775 minus 1758 equals…?

“Wait!” William looked at me, his eyes widened, then his brow furrowed. Something was causing him to second guess his answer.

“Jeremiah Towle was 17 when the American Revolution started,” I said.

We started walking toward other headstones.

“He was a kid,” said William. “That must have been scary being a kid fighting against the world’s most powerful military.”

We did the math at all the American Revolution veterans’ headstones, figuring out how old they were at the outbreak of the war. Rev. Caleb Fogg was 14. Mr. Samuel Ballow was 17.

Then we came to the gravesite of veteran Simon Dearborn, Esq. who died at age 90 on “Feby 16th, 1824.”

“Do you know what ‘Esquire’ means?” I asked William.

He did not.

“It means Simon Dearborn was a lawyer. Esquire is a term used by lawyers.” Mr. Dearborn was born in 1734, an old man age 41 at the start of the Revolution.

Our Lakeview Cemetery tour completed, I dropped William at his home.

Driving back to my home I stopped at a roadside cemetery I’ve driven by dozens of times. This place is officially either Lothrop or Fish Cemetery, but there’s no sign.

Buried here are American Revolution veterans: Zaddock Bishop, Capt. Daniel Lane, Daniel Lane, Jr., Ebenezer Mason, Ebenezer Mason, Jr., Oliver Randall, Thomas Millett, and George Lothrop. Their US military headstone inscriptions show no ages.

Civil War veterans David E. Trask, who died in Thibodeaux, Louisiana (26), and Walter W. Boothby, killed at Fredericksburg, VA (24) are here too.

And in the back left corner of this cemetery I was surprised to see my ancestors; seven headstones in a Fish family plot. American Revolution veteran Jirah Fish is here with War of 1812 veteran Jira Fish Jr.

On my way out a bluish detailed engraved metallic obelisk caught my eye. Buried here? Adopted daughter, Mary E. Leadbetter, who died one month short of her 21st birthday. Among the obelisk’s engravings is the word “SING.” Below “SING” is the sentence, “LET THE DEAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, REST.”

At Eileen’s suggestion I discovered “Let the Dead and the Beautiful Rest” is a song published when Mary Leadbetter was 15. And I found and listened online to the song Mary’s parents used to memorialize her 143 years ago.

It was a somber musical meeting of the centuries; a fitting tribute to Mary, and all the military veterans William and I visited this day.

Scott K. Fish has served as a communications staffer for Maine Senate and House Republican caucuses, and was communications director for Senate President Kevin Raye. He founded and edited AsMaineGoes.com and served as director of communications/public relations for Maine’s Department of Corrections until 2015. He is now using his communications skills to serve clients in the private sector.

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