Remembering Pearl Harbor and World War II veterans in Livermore Falls

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Livermore Falls Fire Chief Gerry Pineau salutes a World War II monument unveiled Friday during a ceremony at Geneva Hodgkins Park, after laying a wreath at its base in remembrance of one of 19 soldiers who did not return from that war. Go to sunjournal.com to see a slide show of the ceremony.

LIVERMORE FALLS — Veterans, family and friends gathered in Geneva Hodgkins Memorial Park at 7:55 a.m. Friday to remember.

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Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Livermore Falls fire chief Gerry Pineau places a wreath at the foot of a memorial for the men and women of Livermore and Livermore Falls whom served in World War II on Friday, Pearl Harbor Day, at the monument's unveiling. The wreaths represented the 19 soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice and did not return from the war.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

The two bronze tablets on the Livermore Falls World War II memorial were designed and created by Fayette artist Gary Cooper. The monument unveiled Friday on Pearl Harbor Day, replaces a former wooden structure in Geneva Hodgkins Park in Livermore Falls.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Jocelyn Mosher-Collins, commander of the Livermore Falls American Legion, prepares to lay a wreath in honor of the 19 soldiers who perished in World War II Friday.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Flags were handed out to all of the over two dozen people who attended the unveiling of the World War II memorial in Livermore Falls Friday.

They remembered the moment the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor 71 years ago and the 726 men and women from Livermore and Livermore Falls who served in World War II.

All gathered for a dedication of two new bronze tablets placed on the World War II monument. The tablets list the 726 veterans' names, including the 19 who did not return.

"They gave their lives," said Donald Simoneau, who created the list of names over the past 20 years. "They gave so much for the cause of freedom."

In 1943, money was raised to erect the original wooden monument, which listed the names of the veterans. It fell into disrepair and was taken down in the 1960s. When the stone memorial was erected, the names were left off, Simoneau said.

"This is a sacred place," he told the large gathering of those who had come out in the morning cold to commemorate the veterans. "It's not a cemetery, but it's still sacred."

The attendees also were there to say thank you.

While Faith Nichols was waiting for the ceremony to begin, she said she had never said thank you to her grandfather, George Turcotte, for his service to this country. She was a little girl at the time he served.

"Now with a son in Afghanistan, it hits you," she said. "This is my way to say thanks."

The bronze tablets listing those "on land, at sea and in the air" is a "roll of honor — our way to say thank you to those who gave so much," Simoneau said. "It's important to return those names to this park."

Simoneau's quest took him on a long search of barns, libraries and records. More than 100 people helped him collect the names.

"I was told not to do it," he said. "I would miss names or make mistakes."

But 30,000 sets of eyes previewed the list of names.

"I'd rather make a couple mistakes than forget the 726 who gave us our freedom," he said.

Dufour family members were there to honor and remember the five members of their family listed: Aime, Eddie, Alfred, Willie and Paul.

Willie Dufour, 89, of Boston, the first to donate to Simoneau's project to bring the names back to the park, traveled to Maine early Friday morning to be there for the service.

The generation that served was like no other, said Alfreda Dufour Fournier of Auburn.

"They didn't brag or talk (about their war experience)," she said. "They taught humility, gratitude and patriotism by example."

As Fournier remembered the park of her youth (formerly known as Union Park) and the veterans in the Livermore-Livermore Falls area, she acknowledged that Livermore Falls might not be the wealthiest town, but "this town is the most patriotic," she said.

"This park is the heart of Livermore Falls; it's the heart of the community," Fournier said, remembering concerts and picnics held around a now-gone bandstand.

Simoneau acknowledged sculptor Gary Cooper of Fayette, who designed the 24- by 32-inch commemorative tables.

Many townspeople contributed to the event. Local veteran organizations provided a color guard, firing squad and chaplain for the service. Spruce Mountain High School students played "taps." Livermore Falls and Jay fire departments extended ladders bearing a large American flag in honor of the veterans.

Twenty-two wreaths were donated by Worcester Wreath Co. and Wreaths Across America. Some family members came forward to place wreaths before the monument when the names of the 19 who gave their lives were read.

Lewiston police officers Larry and Michael Maillet, uncle and nephew, came to remember their uncle and great-uncle, respectively. They paused before placing the wreath at the monument.

"Some no longer have family here," Simoneau said. "This monument helps us to remember."

abryant@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Randall Pond's picture

A Big Thank You

To Donald Simoneau for tackling this Project! Congratulations on a Job Well DONE!

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