By Peter J. Agrafiotis
New Hampshire Profiles
More than three hundred New Hampshire service men and women have lost their lives at sea during the wars of our history, and to these "honored dead" no fitting memorial has ever been erected.
In an effort to remedy this lack, William Downs, who lost a son in the Pacific, took steps in 1950 to have a monument in their memory raised somewhere on the seacoast. He received enthusiastic support of the then-governor Sherman Adams, who created the New Hampshire Marine Memorial Commission. This group succeeded in raising more than $7,000 from public contributions, but plans were temporarily laid aside, since the original budget called for a sum exceeding $50,000.
Last year (1954), the Commission was reorganized by Governor Hugh Gregg, with Shelby O. Walker, former mayor of Concord, as chairman. Mr. Downs was reappointed to the group, as was Dr. Daniel E. Poling of Deering whose son, a chaplain, perished at sea after giving his life belt to another. Mrs. Maurice Mullen of Concord, A Gold Star Mother, is another member of the original organization.
The reorganized Commission, which also includes Reginald Abbott of Candia, Paul V. Brown of Portsmouth, Mrs. Paul Slawson of New Castle, and Mrs. Robert Goss of Rye, immediately set about completing the project.
After many consultations, it was decided to erect the memorial at Hampton Beach, almost in front of the Ashworth Hotel. Bids from manufacturers were reviewed, and the proposal of Joseph Comolli, a Concord contractor was accepted. Mr. Comolli's plans call for the use of New Hampshire granite, to be furnished by the John Swenson Granite Company.
Mrs. Alice Cosgrove, well known New Hampshire artist (see "Artist at Work" New Hampshire Profiles, February, 1955) created the design for the monument.
The memorial will constitute the statue proper, mounted on circular bases. Overall size of the bottom base will be five feet six inches. The base, together with the figure of the seated woman, will be twelve feet high. The statue itself will be eight feet in height. The semi-circular seat will be twenty feet long and four feet high, upon which will be carved the names of the New Hampshire men and women lost at sea.
Carved on the base will be the words, "Breathe soft, Ye winds, Ye waves in silence rest". [As Miss Cosgrove once said, "Reverently she lays a wreath upon the soft waters which embrace them. As she looks across the waters, she asks that the winds and waves be gentle, as a mother who covers her sleeping child at night."]
At a meeting held last month at the State House by Governor Lane Dwinell, honorary chairman of the Commission, plans to raise $25.000 to complete the memorial were discussed with veterans and civic groups and state departments who are cooperating with the Commission.
The goal is to complete the drive as soon as possible, thus giving the contractor adequate time to finish the monument by Memorial Day in 1956. [Ed.: It was finally dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1957.]
The Marine Memorial Commission campaign headquarters are at the offices of Peter J. Agrafiotis, its executive secretary, at the Carpenter Hotel, Manchester, New Hampshire. Contributions to the fund should be made payable to Harland L. Goodwin, treasurer of the Commission.
In addition to raising money for the memorial, the Commission is also at work compiling the names of all the person lost at sea. Information which was submitted to the original commission will be brought up to date so that no name will be omitted.