Wreath ceremony in Houlton honors those who served at Hancock Barracks

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HOULTON, Maine (WAGM) - People gathered at Soldiers Cemetery on Saturday and took time to remember the veterans that served at Hancock Barracks when it was operational.

They braved the cold of November to watch these wreaths being laid on the graves of those who served. This particular wreath laying has a historical background to it.

“We are honoring a local set of veterans here in Houlton that served their terms long before anybody realized you know there was an establishment up here,” said Lee Oliver, Master of Freemasons of Monument Lodge 96.

37 soldiers served at the Hancock Barracks in Houlton. According to Richard Rhoda, Past Master of the Freemasons of Monument Lodge 96, when the soldiers first arrived in 1828, they didn’t have it easy.

“Hancock Barracks was the northeast post for the United States in 1828, and the soldiers came here were here for about 17 years and they came in the harshest of conditions. There would be times when the temperature would be 30 below at night and the first year they were sleeping out in their tents, they didn’t have their barracks put up yet,” explained Richard Rhoda, Past Master of Freemasons of Monument Lodge 96.

Bernard McMann is a retired Major of the US Marine Corp and was asked to be the speaker at the ceremony. He says that even though the soldiers stationed at Hancock Barracks never went to battle, they still deserved to be remembered.

“It’s a worthwhile adventure. These guys they deserve for us to remember them every now and again so I’m’ here doing that,” said U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Bernard McMann.

“We want to recognize the uniqueness of these soldiers to the history of Houlton, Aroostook County, and the state of Maine,” sad Rhoda.