The Lady of the Sea: NH Marine Memorial

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"It started as a grave marker and became a monument!"

Courtesy 2009 Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce Visitors Guide

[Excerpts from a story by John M. Holman, Hampton History Volunteer
Lane Memorial Library, Hampton, New Hampshire]

The Lady of the Sea:
NH Marine Memorial

William E. Downs of Manchester first thought he would see if the Federal government would furnish him a grave marker to be placed at a token grave site for his son, Captain William D. Downs, who was buried at sea on May 25, 1945. After learning that no such marker was available to him or to the thousands of others who had lost someone at sea, he next tried to establish a federal monument in the nation's capital. He soon found no such monument could be built. In 1950, support from then NH Governor Sherman Adams came, who created a "New Hampshire Marine Memorial Commission." It was this commission which for the next four years studied the possibility of a memorial on the New Hampshire seacoast.

The monument was completed and dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1957. On Veterans Day, 1970, the American Legion Post #35 of the Hamptons dedicated the two flag poles at the monument.

The words from the poem by John Gay, written in 1714, in his "An Epistle to a Lady" were selected by Alice Cosgrove to be inscribed at the base of the statue as a tribute to not only the son of William E. Downs, but to all those lost or buried at sea during World War II. The inscription reads:

"Breathe soft, ye winds,
Ye waves in silence rest."

Under former Governor Hugh,Gregg, the commission chose the plot of ground at Hampton Beach across from the Ashworth Hotel to locate the memorial. Various designs for the Memorial were submitted and finally a design by Alice E. Cosgrove [1909-1971], a talented artist from Concord NH, was chosen. Her design was accepted unanimously after the commission members had viewed the other entries. She made a scale model which was used by a Cambridge, Massachusetts sculptor, Teodors Uzarins, to model a life-size statue in clay at the Caproni Galleries in Boston. Uzarins, working closely with Alice. produced the sensitive face and feeling now immortalized in NH granite which you see today.

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