The snowstorm was in full force Wednesday when a visit was made to Westbrook Park Veterans Memorial.
Westbrook Park Veterans Memorial was somber and silent as winter arrived this week. A layer of snow will still such places and the memories they commemorate.
The storm was in full force when a visit was made to the memorial. The grayness of the sky and the veil of falling snow provided a muted background to the multitude of flags that were blown gently by the force of the snowstorm’s wind.
An American flag flew highest, and beneath it was a black banner remembering prisoners of war. On other poles flew the various colors of the flags of the United States’ branches of service — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.
Snow collected on the bases of the monuments below those flags. And it rested atop the low wall that is built around them. It gathered along the black fence that contains the Veterans Memorial and separates it from the rest of Westbrook Park, which is between 12th and 13th streets in the northwest section of the city.
A solitary visitor could faintly hear the traffic flowing on those streets, as well as the cars and trucks traveling slowly in the storm along nearby Interstate 77. He could make out the delighted sounds of youngsters who finally were able to ride sleds down the short slope in a corner of the park.
But, other than those sounds, the Veterans Memorial was hushed. There were few leaves to rustle in the trees surrounding the land set aside for the monuments. No sounds of feet cold be heard walking in the snow — no footprints revealed the recent passing of visitors.
That smooth layer of new snow hid the paths in the memorial, as well as any names that might be engraved on bricks in the walkway. The snow also hid the text panels that explain two cannons that are placed in the park, along with words that give the history of the piece of the battleship Maine that is displayed only a few feet from the memorial.
Seasonally, such memorials become anonymous. We remember, but only in general, and our prayers for those who sacrificed so much for our country are hastened by the briskness of the temperature. When one is made breathless by gusts of frigid air, there seems an urgency to get to “Amen.”
The Veterans Memorial looked cold and isolated at midweek. The brick pillars at its entrance appeared even more sturdy in that cold. The memorial itself seemed lifeless and alone.
It was not forgotten, exactly. Motorists passing it still can see it and remember, even at night. The light from eight lampposts begins to illuminate it as the dark and gloomy day turns to dusk and finally darkness.
Still, the memorial in Westbrook Park was uninviting during a snowstorm. And its single visitor felt almost unwanted.
Page 2 of 2 - One who stops — stands between the memorial and the newly-frozen surface of the nearby pond — is reminded of Robert Frost’s poem about “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
“My little horse must think it queer
“To stop without a farmhouse near
“Between the woods and frozen lake
“The darkest evening of the year.”
So, the visitor moved on. And Westbrook Park Veterans Memorial again was left alone.