"M" Is For Memorials

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Visitor's ABC's

By , John Hirtle Beach News Staff

Beach News, Thursday, July 21, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of Beach News]
Each year, the Beach News is proud to feature an unique ongoing series of articles concerning interesting facts about the region's places and history. This year, we will be doing a virtual visitor's ABCs of the Seacoast region.
'Breathe soft, ye winds -- ye waves in silence rest'

Take a walk along most portions of the Seacoast region and you might stumble across them. Memorials to those who have done great deeds, memorials to those who have done their duty, and memorials that simply remember people who have passed away.

The most visible and well known of these memorials is surely the New Hampshire Marine Memorial. Located on Hampton Beach, 'The Lady' as she is called, began as a quest by William E. Downs of Manchester NH to get a grave marker for his son, Captain William D. Downs, who was buried at sea during World War Two. When he found no such marker was available for his son, or the other brave servicemen lost at sea, he began a drive to have the New Hampshire Marine Memorial created.

The completed statue, based on a design by Alice E. Cosgrove, is carved out of solid granite, weighs approximately seven tons, and stands 12 feet high. Dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1957, the statue has become central to Memorial Day and Veteran Day ceremonies at Hampton Beach. The granite bench behind her is 20 feet long and bears the names of New Hampshire natives who were lost at sea in service of their country. Other memorials are not so obvious.

The scattered memorials to the tragedy of the USS Thresher's sinking can be found across the Seacoast region. In 1962 the Thresher, then the most advanced nuclear attack submarine in the world left thePortsmouth Navel Shipyard for routine sea trials. She never returned, taking with her 129 sailors and civilians to their graves 300 miles off the coast of Massachusetts. Near Salisbury Beach Massachusetts you can find the Robert E. Steinel Memorial Park, which remembers one of the town's brave sailors who was aboard the Thresher when she sank.

Another memorial to the Thresher can be found in a tiny garden at the U.S.S. Albacore Visitor Center in Portsmouth, where memorials to other Portsmouth-built subs which have been lost in the line of duty can be viewed.

Other memorials are just as easily hidden through everyday use.

Thousands of visitors cross the Neil Underwood Bridge which spans the mouth of Hampton Harbor every day, never giving a thought to the former Hampton Beach native who was killed in action over Cosica France in 1944. North of Hampton's North Beach, a number of small streets are named in honor of other Hampton residents who died in the service of their country.

Yet the most common and overlooked memorials of all along the beaches of New Hampshire are the benches. Virtually every one edging the sidewalks along Hampton Beach's sidewalks was paid for through private funds.

Affixed to each is a small plaque indicating who the bench is dedicated to. The program, sponsored by the New Hampshire State Parks proved so popular that it was overwhelmed by requests. The program is currently suspended until the existing benches need to be replaced.

Take a look around -- and see how many memorials can be found during your holiday along the Seacoast.

"M" is also for:
Mama Leone’s, a beautiful
place for fine Italian dining.
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