June 16 – 22, 2017 Vol. 19, No. 2


Summertime in the Belgrades

June 16 – 22

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Hikes, History, and Heroes

by Kathleen Overfield

Back to Great Pond. It's usually around Memorial Day when we return for the summer. As always, I'm drawn to the little cemetery on Watson Pond Road — to visit Ezra Willard's grave. My first encounter with Ezra was in 2007. My husband and I were hiking in the Kennebec Highlands — a three-mile loop — and somehow wandered off trail. Eventually we found a path and reached the parking lot — but it wasn't the lot where our car was parked. As we headed down the road we came upon a little graveyard tucked up against the woods. A shady, undisturbed spot to have our sandwiches. So we ate our lunch among the souls from the 1800s.

The stones tell stories, though many of the etchings are wearing away and impossible to read. But there in the middle of the serene little hill, a small American flag was waving, next to a stone that says:

EZRA WILLARD
A Soldier of the Revolution
DIED
May 6, 1851.
Æ 90.

This peaceful little place had an effect on me, and every year I make this little pilgrimage on Memorial Day. For me, it's a time to remember all the Ezras who risked their young lives to make our nation a reality. It's a time to think about war. And it's easy to get a bit teary-eyed and feel melancholy. But Memorial Day is a time to reflect, so I visit Rome's Revolutionary War soldier, and I tell him, "You were there fighting for our independence. We honor you on Memorial Day and celebrate again, lighting up the skies with fireworks, on the 4th of July. Thank you for your service, Ezra."

Author's Note: Rome, ME sent 103 to the War of Rebellion. Forty died. Ezra was 90 years old when he died. Next to Ezra in the cemetery is Elizabeth, who died at age 10; and further down is Jonathon Trask's beloved wife, a woman in her early 20s.

(Editor's Note: In the inscription above, "Æ" stands for the Latin word "ætatis", meaning "of the age." With the number that follows, it indicates the age of the deceased at the time of death, in this case, 90 years.)