Mount Hope

Mount Hope Garden Cemetery

In 1834, the Bangor Horticultural Society was formed in order to purchase half of Joseph Treat’s large lot on the outskirts of the city. The intent was to design a layout that followed the styles of Mount Auburn in Cambridge MA, Charles G. Bryant was hired. He left a stronger mark on Bangor’s architectural tone than any other man. His plan for Mount Hope would divide the land into two areas, one for burials and the other for horticultural purposes.

The Horticultural Society had not lived up to its promise so it was superseded in September 1834 by the Mount Hope Cemetery Corporation which laid out the cemetery according to Bryant’s plan. Mount Hope Cemetery ranks among the earliest of American garden cemeteries. It followed Mount Auburn by only three years but its larger importance lies in its reflection of a new mood across America. There was a desire to provide a romanticized rural atmosphere within the reach of the city dweller. This was also typified by the creation of Central Park in New York City.

The Maine Korean War Memorial

Here is the story behind the creation of the Maine Korean War Memorial.

Sometimes it is much harder to erect a statue or monument than for a radical group like in some other cities to have one removed.

The story behind the building of the Korean War Memorial at Mt Hope

The organizers of this monument took a great deal of effort to see that their dream project would be completed. In their case, it was well worth the effort and its results will be featured at Mt Hope for a very long time showing the courage of those soldiers for future generations.

In 1992, a group of Korean War veterans met at the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Bangor, Maine. They incorporated under the national aegis of the Korean War Veterans Association and called themselves the Burton-Goode-Sargent Chapter 1 in honor of three Maine veterans who were lost in the Korean War: George R. Burton, Prisoner of War, Alan R. Goode, Missing in Action, both presumed dead, and Harry L. Sargent, Jr., Killed in Action on Pork Chop Hill.

The group¹s main goal was spelled out at the first meeting: To construct an appropriate memorial to the Korean War honoring all Maine servicemen and women, especially those who were killed in Korea. Some of the vets had been collecting money for the national memorial, but bureaucratic wrangling led many veterans to believe that the national monument might never be built, so they were very willing to switch their efforts to a state memorial.
For the raising of money, they held garage sales, raffled off a car, rifle, pictures, books, doll houses and anything to raise money. They even cleaned restaurants and served as valet parking attendants. Nothing would stand in their way. Artist Wayne Allen did several watercolors depicting how the memorial might look. The paintings provided the springboard to show possible donors and the public what the group had in mind. From these original paintings, members of the Memorial Team worked with Provost Monuments in Benton, Maine to develop a plan. Members with artistic talent suggested variations from the original idea. Others suggested compromises to keep costs in line.
Meanwhile, the group searched for a site. Some veterans asserted that the memorial should go into Capitol Park across from the State House near the Viet Nam Memorial, but vandalism to that memorial and its obscure location – hidden from public view – were more than enough to make veterans seek a better site.
Maine Adjutant General Nelson Durgin approved a request from veterans to locate in the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta, but even after a site was selected, the American Legion and VFW of Maine vigorously opposed the plan. Even as the vets struggled to raise more, the vets, their spouses and families continued their efforts. They needed $60,000 to claim One More Hill, the battle of words continued with Legion and VFW officers and others who bitterly opposed the memorial being placed in the cemetery.

One veteran bitterly condemned the plans, especially the pagoda-style arch which is symbolic of the Freedom Gate at Freedom Village and is inscribed on the Korean War service medal. The Veterans Coordinating Committee would not even recognize Maine Korean War Veterans and the National Korean War Veterans Association. The opposition became so overwhelming that General Durgin was eventually forced to withdraw his offer.

There were several offers of land, including one at the Veterans Nursing Home at Hogan Road and State Street in Bangor. The potential for building at the nursing home was quashed because of a clause in the charter prohibiting additional structures.
A restless and unsettled group doggedly continued to raise funds while the Memorial Team talked with Stephen Burrill, superintendent of Mt. Hope Cemetery. Following a corporate meeting, in late October 1994 members learned they had a site.
In the spring of 1995, just before retiring, General Durgin committed the 101st Civil Engineers of the Maine Air National Guard to construct the foundations and approaches, using materials and equipment donated by generous businesses.

The Maine Korean War Memorial was dedicated in 1995, two days after the national memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC. It had taken the tiny group three long years to raise the money and build the monument, just as long as it took the United Nations forces in Korea and truce negotiators to achieve an armistice on July 27, 1953. But we must not forget that a state of war still exists between North Korea and South Korea, and the United States still maintains a significant armed force in South Korea. Since the truce was signed, more than 100 Americans have been killed in savage and unprovoked clashes with North Korea.

So you see, there is a story behind the many monuments and memorials in Mount Hope. If you never go there, you might not get to see some of the best historical features of Bangor and Maine. You may not even have known that there is a Carillon there playing bell chimes much like Grace Church once did at the corner of Union and Clinton St. “Mount Hope may well be the top site in Bangor that you never got to see”.

As a Vietnam era veteran, there is a monument at Cole’s Land Transportation in Bangor and it is fine. As a contractor on military bases in Iraq for over eight years, I would like to see a monument dedicated to those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Troop Greeters were a great welcoming group for thousands of service-members returning to America. The Troop Greeter’s Museum at Bangor International Airport is very special. Bangor has a good heart for its vets.