AUBURN — As the Auburn Police Department Honor Guard raised a flag that once flew over the nation’s Capitol to half-staff Friday morning at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Edward Little High School senior Addison Avery sang an emotional rendition of the national anthem, marking the start of a dedication of two new memorial stones there.

The stones, memorializing all those who served and died during wars and conflicts since the Vietnam War, is on the Summer Street side of the cemetery. The two are in addition to one erected in 1946 by the Auburn-Lewiston Lions Club that was intended to honor those who had served and died in previous wars and was also used to recognize service in future conflicts.

Auburn Police Department Chaplain Roger Cousineau, senior pastor at East Auburn Baptist Church, opened the ceremony with an invocation asking for God’s “presence to be known in this sacred place,” which honors “those who secured our liberty and our freedom” through their service and sacrifice.

“We pray these monuments remind us of the high cost” of that service, he said.

Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque welcomed an audience of about 100 people, including a large number of uniformed police and fire department personnel and veterans, “on this very special day for the city of Auburn. A very special day for our veterans.”

Pointing to the 1946 stone, Levesque said when the city held a Memorial Day ceremony at the site in 2020 under COVID-19 restrictions, officials couldn’t help but notice that the stone hadn’t been updated since 1975. During Friday’s ceremony, he said officials considered the memorial site, which includes a pond surrounded by granite benches, to be incomplete. “There have been a lot of conflicts since Vietnam,” he said, and officials pledged to update the site with additional memorial markers.


The City Council appropriated funding and the stones were designed by Collette Monuments. They contain the titles and years of each conflict, including Grenada, Panama, the Cold War, the Persian Gulf War and the ongoing Global War on Terror.

Levesque said city officials, along with local veterans organizations, believed the updated monuments were necessary to fully recognize those who served and “the impact of their sacrifices that ripple through our lives.”

Karen Staples, a member of Sen. Susan Collins’ staff, told those gathered that Collins had arranged the flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol specifically for this memorial ceremony.

Staples read a letter from the senator, who wrote: “Memorial Day reminds us of the gifts that come at the greatest possible price,” in reference to the nation’s freedoms and liberty, and it is with “grief, remembrance and gratitude” that Auburn honors its own.

Katherine Drummond, representing U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, read a letter in which Golden wrote, “our duty to honor our veterans is ongoing, but today is special.”

In his letter, Golden, a former Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, reminded those gathered that “every one of the brave men and women who gave their life was loved by someone,” and the nation must recognize those individual sacrifices as part of the larger duty to honor all veterans.


The keynote speaker, Lt. Col. Paul Bosse of Auburn, who is set to retire after 29 years of active duty June 10, carried forward that message of individual sacrifice.

Bosse began his military career in 1993. He spent six years on active duty as an enlisted soldier and noncommissioned officer serving in the 25th Infantry Division (Light), Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

A highly decorated soldier, Bosse is an Airborne Ranger and infantryman and is a combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I don’t know that we do this enough in America,” he said, getting together to honor those who served, reminding those gathered that Memorial Day is more than picnics and barbecues and time off.

He made the point several times that 1,275,000 American servicemen and women have died since the start of the Revolutionary War, and that every “serviceman in uniform died protecting an ideal.”

Every one “of those 1,275,000 who died was a personal tragedy” for their families, “like the death of Tommie Field who was killed in Somalia,” he said.


Field was serving with the 160th Special Operations Regiment when he was killed in 1993.

A Lisbon native, Field joined the U.S. Army in 1988 and graduated from Airborne and Air Assault schools. He was the crew chief on a Black Hawk that was shot down over Mogadishu, and Bosse reminded people that the stretch of Route 196 that goes from Lewiston into Lisbon is named in honor of Staff Sgt. Field.

Bosse put his focus on the totality of war dead. “Think of the sea of humanity that is. It’s essentially the population of our state today,” he said, “but it’s important to remember them all on a personal level.”

He went on to talk about a number of men he had served with, and who had died, and the sorrow their deaths left behind.

“We don’t remember the fallen as nameless, faceless. We know them. They were our friends,” Bosse said.

“Those who fought for us fought for our liberty and pursuit of happiness,” he said, and encouraged everyone, especially when riding along Route 196, to remember.


Gov. Janet Mills was also a guest speaker, coming to the Auburn event straight from an early morning memorial in Portland, from which the singing of the national anthem still was on her mind.

“There are some days, some weeks I can’t hear it enough,” she said.

She praised Auburn and all the volunteers who helped bring the new monuments to Mount Auburn Cemetery.

“All those Mainers who served with great determination and hope are now appropriately honored,” she said, and “it is my fervent hope there will be no need for future stones.”

The daughter and sister of veterans, Mills said she marks every Memorial Day with gratitude and grief.

“Gratitude that my family members returned home safely. And grief for the Maine servicemen and women we have lost.”


She promised to continue pushing for greater services for Maine veterans, and to all those who are currently serving. “Our hearts, our gratitude, our appreciation are with you today.”

Following Mills’ remarks, Levesque called forward a group of Auburn veterans who have served in various conflicts since Vietnam, and each set a red rose on one of the new memorial stones.

They were:

• Scott Thistle, served in England in military intelligence with the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War.

• Retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. John Herrick, served in the European Theater and in Maine with the Maine Air National Guard for 29 years.

• Sgt. Gerry Desjardins, U.S. Army medic, 29-year veteran who served in Desert Storm.


• Retired Maj. John Pape, commander of American Legion Post 153 in New Auburn and veteran of the Kosovo War.

• City Manager Phil Crowell, who served in Desert Storm with the U.S. Army Reserves, 94th Military Police Company.

• Retired Master Sgt. Jeff Lageaux, who served with the U.S. Army 187th Infantry Regiment in Somalia, and also served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti.

• Officer Andrew Jarman, who served with the U.S. Army, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in Afghanistan.

• Mills set the final rose on a memorial stone on behalf of the men and women who are “still fighting in countries too numerous to mention.”

Levesque, Bosse, Mills and Crowell uncovered the stones, which had each been wrapped in black cloth tied with ribbon.

A member of the 3rd Maine Voluntary Infantry Regiment fired three rifle volleys, and Pvt. S.E. Peterson played taps.

Cousineau concluded the ceremony, praying for God to bring “blessings on these stones that bring memorial” to those who served.

He, too, noted the incalculable loss of servicemen and -women over the years, and said “we stand here with great liberty and great freedom … and I hope the stones lead us to a greater understanding and remembrance” of those who served.

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