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Thursday, May 22, 2014

MEMORIAL DAY MUSINGS

 The Grand Trunk Cemetery Veterans Memorial
May 22, 2014

     Four years ago, during this week, on a Wednesday, I believe, my Junior Girl Scout Troop from Presumpscot School were invited to lay the flags for the Veterans interred at Eastern Cemetery. Samantha Allshouse, then a Junior at Cheverus High School,  was my Troop assistant.  Holly Dogget from the Spirits Alive group met us and guided the young Girl Scouts throughout the cemetery for the placement of the flags.  Most of the girls had never visited Eastern Cemetery and enjoyed the experience.  I remember we conducted our own brief Flag Ceremony to honor the Veterans.  But perhaps,  the most amazing part of that afternoon was the revelation Sam and I received from Holly with her question:

  "Do you know about the cemetery right behind Presumpscot School where there is a soldier of the Revolutionary War buried?"

     This was the question which ultimately led to Samantha Allshouse and Kayla Theriault deciding to reclaim the East Deering/Grand Trunk Cemetery as their Girl Scout Gold Award project and to many revelations to follow.

     Somehow, it seems appropriate to speak of this since Sam, her Mom, Lynda, and Megan Cunningham, one of our Junior Girl Scout Bronze Award Candidates following in Sam and Kayla's footsteps, Megan's Mom, Julie and I just returned from laying flags for our eight Veterans at the GTC.  We conducted our own mini ceremony complete with the singing of 'Taps.'

     I shared a bit of what we have learned about our Veterans over the last four years, especially about how there is a father, Lieut. Crispus Graves, Revolutionary War and his son, Andrew Graves, War of 1812, and two brothers, John and William Sawyer (War of 1812).  These two brothers are also sons - in - law of Lieut. Graves.  A new revelation, and one I will write about in detail later, is that John Sawyer also served over a thirteen month period during the Revolutionary War. 

      Sam and Kayla's project was so appropriately titled:  'Unearthing the Roots of the East Deering and Back Cove Communities.'  Over these last four years, we have come to appreciate the little facts and stories of these people,  who's final resting place is this small, but significant Grand Trunk Cemetery.

     Without delving into the theological or metaphysical, I have always felt that the veil between the living and the dead is thin;  exploring our history makes it thinner.  Historical and genealogical detective work is tough when you have so little to go by and you don't have the benefit of even the 'stone records' that other cherished cemeteries provide.  That said, I feel we know a great deal more now because we were willing and able to do the work, and it's exciting to be able to share with others who have taken an interest in the GTC and its 'residents.'

  I'm going to sign off for now with the promise of adding to the story of John Sawyer.  I will share photos from today, as well as the new gardens, thanks to our Junior Girl Scout Bronze Award Candidates.