May 21, 2013

Marine seeks Katahdin memorial for Maine's fallen

Maj. David Cote hopes to honor the 46 Mainers who have died in the war on terror with engraved rocks atop the state's tallest mountain.

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Maj. David Cote

Provided photo

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In this September 2012 photo, a view of Mount Katahdin from the shores of Lake Millinocket. Maj. David Cote hopes to honor the 46 Mainers who have died in the war on terror with engraved rocks atop the state's tallest mountain.

Gabe Souza

Cote still can ask for permission to create his memorial, Bissell said, but approval would rest with a three-member authority made up of Maine's attorney general, the commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and the director of the Maine Forest Service.

If a memorial on Mount Katahdin doesn't work out, Cote said he'll look for another option, but he hopes to persuade park officials to approve his plan. He said he likes the symbolism of lifting fallen spirits to the state's highest peak.

"It will be nothing more than a pile of rocks," he said.

Cote graduated from Bangor High School in 1997 and enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland.

He did a tour in Iraq in 2006 and has completed numerous other noncombat tours for the Marine Corps.

He has made a career in the military and said he has a strong respect for those who choose to serve knowing that it might mean making the ultimate sacrifice.

But Cote said the project is not about him.

The idea for the memorial came from a hike he took on Labor Day last year with a group of friends and former classmates, many of them Navy SEALs. The hike took him up Mount Whitney in California, the highest peak in the contiguous United States. Once they reached the summit, several of the SEALs took rocks from their backpacks that had been inscribed with initials and insignia and placed them in a small pile.

"They were honoring their own," Cote said. "That's what I want to do here."

Maine has one of the largest populations of veterans per capita of any state. Approximately one in six adults has served in the military.

Cote said one of the things that most appeals to him about the memorial project is the idea that a hiker several years from now might stumble upon an engraved rock and wonder why it's there. He hopes that curiosity would compel the hiker to learn about the stone and what the engraving represents.

"That way, they will never be forgotten," he said.

More information about "The Summit Project" is online at mainememorial.org.

 

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

erussell@pressherald.com

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

 

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