Veterans, supporters gather at UMFK to mark 100th anniversary of end of World War I
FORT KENT, Maine — A large crowd gathered at the University of Maine at Fort Kent Old Model School Building on Sunday, Nov. 11, to mark Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Members of American Legion Post 133 and the UMFK Student Veterans Association organized the event at which legionnaire Duane Belanger helped members of Boy Scout Troop 189 raise a United States Flag. UMFK President John N. Short and Vietnam Veteran Melford Pelletier laid a ceremonial wreath at the base of the flagpole.
High school exchange students from Cholet, France, along with their host students from Fort Kent Community High School gathered to read a poem in French titled “Poeme,” which French WWI soldier Eugene Dabit wrote during the war. Translated to English, Dabit’s poem reads in part:
“I was a soldier at 18
To fight a war
While still a child
To live in a hole
In the ground
Pursued like a madman
France and the United States were allied forces in World War I.
CHS French educator Robert Daigle read a poem that World War I veteran Ralph Moan of East Machias wrote regarding a battle that took place on Sept. 26, 1918. The poem in part reads:
“Our trenches ahead,
Back came Hell’s windshield wiper
Vomiting death and I dug in —
Dug in with all I had.”
Daigle told the crowd that during WWI, roughly 10 percent of the male population of Fort Kent, or 120 men, went off to fight the war. Five of them never returned.
Chaperones for the French exchange students as well as educators in Cholet, Tanguy Vilboux and Juliette Heron, accompanied the students to the UMFK Acadian Archives earlier in the week where they learned about these local heros before reading Dabit’s poem at Sunday’s ceremony.
Veterans from Forest Hill Nursing and Skilled Rehab in Fort Kent also attended the ceremony but due to cold weather and strong winds watched from inside a van parked on the lawn. The Forest Hill veterans waved at the crowd who cheered in appreciation for their service to our country.