KITTERY, Maine — After months of preparation and work, the USS Thresher Memorial Park and Circle of Honor has been completed and will be dedicated this coming Monday, Memorial Day, at a ceremony.
The ceremony will recognize not only those who died aboard the USS Thresher 51 years ago, but also Kittery veterans, first responders and Peace Corps volunteers. The park is located adjacent to Town Hall.
The park and the concurrent work at Memorial Circle have been the work of the Thresher Memorial Project Group, composed of local individuals and officials who formed to honor the 50th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Thresher in April 1963.
The Thresher was the last submarine built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and had a number of shipyard workers aboard when it sunk during sea trials.
To date, the Thresher Group has raised $143,000 for the park and circle of honor, which includes granite benches and markers.
According to group member Gary Beers, in just the past month, two significant contributions came in that placed the group within $1,000 of its goal. Retired Capt. Micky Garvarick of the USS Permit, the sister ship to the Thresher, put out a request to former crewmembers, who raised more than $2,000; and Raytheon Corp. also contributed $2,500.
In all, 429 individuals, organizations and businesses have contributed to the park.
The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at the park. The guest speaker will be Capt. William Greene, commander of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Town Council Chairman Jeff Thomson will give the dedication speech.
Others expected to be involved in the ceremony include David Walker, grand master of the Grand Lodge of Maine Free and Accepted Masons; Paul LeBlanc, a Vietnam veteran from Kittery and captain of the Rolling Thunder Honor Guard; and the Rev. Beth Hoffman, chaplain of the Kittery Fire Department.
Parking for dignitaries and the disabled or elderly will be at Town Hall. All others are asked to park elsewhere. It is requested that those attending the event do not park at nearby business establishments.
Rogers Road Extension, the roadway facing Town Hall, will be closed from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Monday. Traffic will be detoured onto Memorial Circle.
This tribute to the men who died aboard the Thresher has been years in the making, and Beers said the group has “great satisfaction” at the outcome.
“It’s turned out to be everything we wanted it to be, thought it would be and worked for,” he said.