The 65,000-pound memorial rock is placed in its new home in the center island outside Brunswick High School on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the Brunswick Parks and Recreation Department

BRUNSWICK — It took more than a decade to move the rock honoring Brunswick High School graduates who died in service to the center island in front of the school, but it’s finally “where it belongs,” receiving “the distinction it deserves,” said Dave Watson, post commander of the Brunswick American Legion Post 20. 

Keeley Crane Service in South Portland moved the more than 30-ton rock for free to honor local veterans, according to Tom Farrell, director of the Brunswick Parks and Recreation Department.

The rock, first placed in front of the old high school and then later moved to the Maquoit Road, has been a fixture of the school since at least the 1950s and honors Brunswick High School alumni who “made the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” Watson said. There are two plaques on the rock, one honoring those who died in World War II, and the other honoring those who died in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. 

The rock weighs 65,000 pounds and was initially too heavy for the rigging Keeley Crane Service brought. After a trip back to Portland, the monument was eventually taken from its spot along the left-hand side of the entrance to the center island, culminating what Watson said has been a 13-year effort of the Brunswick and Topsham American Legions (posts 20 and 202, respectively), the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) post 2197, and the “Move the Rock committee.”

Watson hopes the rock will be the first piece in a “Memorial Island” in front of the school, with two other sections honoring lost faculty and staff and another for students who passed before they could graduate, whether due to sickness or an accident. 

A graduate of the class of 1966, he said the rock is also an important piece of the school’s and the community’s history,  because as a frequent target of the rivalry between Brunswick High School and Morse High School in Bath, it represents “all the shenanigans we used to do.”  Morse students used to sneak over to paint the rock blue and white and Brunswick students would paint it black and orange. 

When the rock was moved from the old high school on Spring Street to the current high school in 1995, there was a procession of nearly 100 alumni and veterans marching behind the flatbed truck. Those who couldn’t walk, followed in school buses. 

Tuesday morning, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, a significantly smaller crowd of about 15 people gathered outside, keeping their distance from one another, to watch the rock finally move to its new home. 

“It’s a major day,” Watson said.

A crew for Keeley Crane Sevices works to secure the 32-ton memorial rock before moving it on Tuesday. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

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