Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Remembering Lubec: Stories from the Easternmost Point by Ronald Pesha

Why I read it: Annual trips to Lubec each year, and I know the author.

Summary: Lubec, Maine's history is told through West Quoddy Lighthouse, its sardine canneries, school days, local families, the building of the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge to Campobello and more.

My Thoughts: I don't often get angry at the Coast Guard. But this made me mad as hell.

It's not Ron Pesha's fault. After all, as he says, since he's from "away," he can be no more than a chronicler and researcher of the local history of Lubec, although I think he has obviously short-changed himself. He writes as if he was there all along.

The situation is this one: the Coast Guard visited Lubec in the mid-1970s and exhumed the remains of Hopley Yeaton, the captain of the first revenue cutter and known as the Father of the Coast Guard, from his family farm for reinterment at the Coast Guard Academy in New London.

Good God! Why?!

Is a memorial monument not enough for the Academy? Would anybody look at it any differently if they knew that Yeaton was not actually buried at the Academy, a place he had absolutely no connection to other than the fact that more then a century after he died New London became the learning ground for the young men and women who were training for duty in a service that a century later grew out of the service with which he once sailed?

Yes, they got their permissions from family members - whatever that means two centuries after his death - but it left a void in Lubec. I can tell you one thing. If the Coast Guard ever gets the notion of moving the body of Captain Joshua James from my hometown, the bulldozers will have to go through me.

Coast Guard history is spread across the country, and each duty station can be a learning station for the men and women who serve. I've introduced hundreds of Coasties to Joshua James' gravesite over the past decade and a half. The men and women who serve at Jonesport should have the option of visiting Hopley Yeaton's gravesite where it originally was in Lubec, understanding him in his context, his surroundings, rather than meeting him in New London.

Sorry Coast Guard, you got this one completely wrong. And sorry, Ron. I promise you a thorough, proper review in print. You did excellent work.

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