PORTLAND, Maine – (NEWS CENTER) — Students, staff and faculty from the University of Southern Maine joined with military personnel to remember and honor service members from Maine who lost their lives since 9/11 Friday.
For six-and-a-half-miles they trekked across Portland carrying the weight of a stone in their backpacks.
“To me, it represents the weight the families have to endure every day of their lives. If for one moment we can take these stones and carry them to relieve that weight off their shoulders then we’ve done our job,” said Greg Johnson of the Summit Project.
On each stone is engraved the name of a service member from Maine who has passed on. Fifty-nine soldiers with Maine connections have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. For some involved in today’s trek there was a very close connection to the fallen they were remembering.
“Christopher D Gelineau was actually one of my students and volunteers that worked with me back in 2002,” said USM staffer Rodney Mondor.
Two years later, Army Specialist Chris Gelineau died in a convoy ambush in Iraq. He was just 23 years old.
“When I saw the announcement on television of his death it was really emotional because he was a great kid,” Mondor said.
Mondor proudly carried the stone taken from the USM Gorham campus where Chris attended classes. His journey today was part of the Summit Project, a living memorial to recognize and preserve the memories of fallen service members.