Marine Memorial

Chapter 17 -- Part 4

Back to previous section -- Forward to next chapter -- Return to Table of Contents
Although unrelated directly to Hampton's members of the armed forces, another war memorial in this town became an important reminder of the sacrifices borne by the men and women who serve the nation in time of war. William D. Downs was lost at sea during World War II. When his father, William E. Downs of Manchester, asked the federal government to provide a cross and a token gravesite for his son, he was told nothing was available for anyone who was lost at sea. Frustrated in his efforts to create a national marine memorial to be built in Washington, the undeterred Downs in 1950 appealed to New Hampshire Governor Sherman Adams and the Legislature, which created a New Hampshire Marine Memorial Commission with Downs as chairman. The commission was reorganized in 1955, when the Legislature voted $10,000 toward the cost of the memorial and the State agreed to contribute an additional $20,000 for the foundation. The balance of the $50,000 project was raised from private donations. Locally, the fund-raising effort was headed by chairman John Dineen, assisted by subchairman Mrs. Lawrence C. Hackett and a number of other Village and Beach residents.

After the commission was unable to use two potential sites in Rye, State land was made available across the street from the Ashworth on Hampton Beach. The commission selected a design submitted by Concord artist Alice Cosgrove, and a life size clay model was made by Teodors Uzarins of Cambridge, Massachusetts. For the final statue, a 24-ton block of granite was cut from the Swenson quarries of Concord and taken to Barre, Vermont, where Italian artisan Andreani of Marr and Gordon, Inc., cut away 17 tons of stone to make the finished work. Dedicated on May 30, 1957, the Marine Memorial was first used during local Memorial Day services the following year. Currently, American Legion Post 35 conducts Memorial Day services at the Marine Memorial, in Hampton Falls, in North Hampton, and in Hampton.

The focus of the memorial is a 12-foot statue, resting on a 6-foot base, depicting a Gold Star Mother about to lay a wreath on the sea. The memorial bears several inscriptions. One, on a 20-foot curving seat behind the statue, reads, "In memory of New Hampshire's heroic war dead lost at sea in defense of our country." Below it are inscribed 248 names of the war dead. On the base of the statue are inscribed lines that Alice Cosgrove selected as her own tribute from the poem "An Epistle to a Lady," written by John Gay in 1714: "Breathe soft, ye winds, Ye waves in silence rest." As Cosgrove once described her work, "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...."

[The New Hampshire Marine Memorial is located across from The Ashworth Hotel on Ocean Boulevard at Hampton Beach, NH.]

Back to previous section -- Forward to next chapter -- Return to Table of Contents