Dresden residents and local dignitaries dedicated a 65-year-old bridge in honor of veterans during a ceremony on Veterans Day, after learning the 1955 dedication didn’t stick.
Veterans Memorial Bridge, which carries Route 128 over the Eastern River, was dedicated to veterans upon its completion in July 1955. A plaque was installed on the bridge that says: “Dedicated to the men and women of Dresden, Maine who have served their country in the armed forces. May freedom with justice forever be the guide of our United States of America.”
But the bridge’s name was never made official. When the Dresden Historical Society contacted state Rep. Allison Hepler about obtaining signage from the state, she discovered that the Maine Department of Transportation had no record of the bridge’s name. With state Sen. Eloise Vitelli, she drafted a bill to name the bridge in December 2019.
The bill passed and the bridge now officially has its name.
The Dresden Historical Society organized the dedication ceremony on Veterans Day. About 40 people attended, including about 10 members of the historical society and about 10 local veterans.
“We wanted to try to replicate the ceremony in 1955 as closely as possible,” said Joe Wiley, vice president of the Dresden Historical Society. He used newspaper articles about the original dedication to help plan the ceremony.
“Based on the newspaper article, we invited the county commissioners, our senator and representative, and the same American Legion post that was there in 1955,” Wiley said, referring to Post No. 132 in Richmond.
Historian Jay Robbins gave the history of the bridge. It was built to replace Lower Bridge, which was in place from 1887-1944 and collapsed due to lack of repairs. The route was closed for 11 years, until Veterans Memorial Bridge was constructed.
“The praise goes to the Dresden Historical Society,” Hepler said. “The process was smooth and supportive every step of the way. It is always an honor to be involved with an event that recognizes veterans, especially in a way that is a permanent reminder of their service.”