Last modified Sept. 27, 2015, at 4:24 p.m.
ORONO, Maine — Five former University of Maine students, along with 20 other Mainers who served in the military, were remembered Saturday for the sacrifices they made for their country.
A memorial ceremony was held outside Fogler Library as part of the latest event organized by The Summit Project, which is to preserve the memory of members of the armed services who died in the line of duty. The Summit Project organizes hikes in Maine each year, often up some of the state’s iconic mountains, during which stones engraved with the initials, years of life and branch of service are carried by volunteer participants.
On Saturday, 35 hikers carrying 25 stones walked more than seven miles from the Maine Veterans Home on Hogan Road in Bangor to UMaine, stopping briefly along the way at the Korean War Memorial at Mt. Hope Cemetery.
At UMaine, the hikers stopped on the library’s front steps and, one by one, walked up to a podium to tell a crowd of approximately 100 people about the person whose stone they were carrying. The university marching band, which was rehearsing nearby in advance of the UMaine football game, marched to the library and performed the theme songs of the respective military branches during the ceremony.
A group of UMaine students holding American flags held up placards of five UMaine students or recent graduates who died in the past decade in Afghanistan and Iraq. Photographs of David Veverka, Nicholas Robertson, John “Jay” Brainard, Matthew Coutu and James Zimmerman were printed on the cards under the words “Maine Remembers.”
Following the ceremony, The Summit Project, its volunteers and the five former Black Bears were officially acknowledged after the first quarter of the UMaine football game against Rhode Island. The stones later were placed in a case that will be on display at the school’s Memorial Union until Nov. 1.
David Cote, founder of The Summit Project and a Marine Corps officer who served in Iraq, wrote in an email Sunday morning that UMaine is a logical place to honor and preserve memories of the fallen.
“We recognize [UMaine] students represent our future leaders who stand on the shoulders of those before us. We carry their legacy,” Cote wrote. “We believe our post-9/11 fallen heroes can and should influence and inspire future generations of Mainers — but it only works when we take the time to learn about them, ensure they are never forgotten and spend time with each other while appreciating service and sacrifice.”