A group gathered at Memorial Flagpole on the quad Tuesday morning to listen to President Barry Mills’ tribute to Bowdoin students, staff and faculty who have served in the armed forces. The monument he stood under, dedicated in 1930, honors the 29 Bowdoin men who died in World War I.
Mills quoted President Sills when he recited, “It is a good thing to have on a college campus in concrete form a reminder that life is not always pleasant and easy and that the liberties we enjoy, the privileges we share have been made possible for us by the sacrifices of those who have gone before.”
Jean-Paul Honegger ’15 organized the tribute and ordered a handmade wreath of poppies from Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Scotland. After Mills’ remarks, Honegger spoke about the importance of the poppy as a symbol of wartime sacrifice and loss, particularly in Europe. “In the U.K., it has taken on an especially important symbolism,” he said.
Most of the poppies that people wear as pins or that they put in wreathes are made by disabled ex-servicemen who find it difficult to find employment, he said. Honegger pointed to Bowdoin’s wreath. “This, like many wreathes, was made by a serviceman who gave so much,” he said.
Noting there are stories behind each name on the monument, Mills shared one about Warren Eastman Robinson, a member of the Class of 1910. Robinson, who was a school teacher, died at age 28 in 1918 near Verdun, just five days before the armistice that ended the war.
Warren’s wife arranged for a gateway to be built to remember her husband, at the corner of Park Row and College Street. “She had an electric light installed in the center so she could see the gateway at night from her window [in the Boody-Johnson House],” Mills said. Read his full remarks.