By State Representative Arthur “Archie” Verow

Monday, May 2, 2016

In 2015 a Resolve was passed by the Legislature Naming this facility at I-95 North in the Town of Hampden, the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Rest Area.

Where did this idea come from?

Travelling the 122 miles of the New Jersey Turnpike, I noticed that the rest areas, every 25 miles, bore the names of famous New Jersey historic men and women. There is Walt Whitman, Clara Barton, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Edison, Vince Lombardi and others. These were people that the State of New Jersey chose to honor by naming these busy rest stops and information centers for.

Coming back to Maine and traveling our Turnpike and Interstate 95, I had the idea that maybe naming our rest areas after Maine prominent historic men and women would be something our Legislature would see as a good idea. That this would be a good way to bring attention to our History and the people who had been an important part of that history.

The Legislature liked the idea and with that, a bill naming this area after one of our most historic figures, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, was chosen.

Chamberlain led a remarkable life. He was born in Brewer, educated in Brewer, at Bowdin College in Brunswick, and in Bangor at the Bangor Theological Seminary. He served in the faculty at Bowdoin and answered the call of duty to serve as commander of the 20th Maine Volunteers in the Civil War.

His unit was credited with successfully defending the vulnerable Left Flank at Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg. He was engaged in other battles, wounded many times, and elevated to the rank of Major General.

Perhaps his greatest honor came when General Grant gave his the distinction of accepting.the surrender of General Lees’s troops at Appotomax Court House. And it was at that moment of surrender, that Chamberlain had his men salute the fallen Confederate Troops. This demonstration of honoring the vanquished foes is still remembered and Chamberlain is held in high esteem throughout the South.

It is said that Chamberlain volunteered to serve in the Union Army not to punish or humble the enemy but to free men and save the Union. His strong Christian faith instilled in him the values of caring and supporting others and he passed these on to those under his command.

After the War, Chamberlain returned to Maine and to teaching at Bowdoin. Then he went into politics and was elected as Maine’s 32nd governor. He served four terms as governor.

Upon that service, he returned to Bowdoin as its President. Upon his retirement, he was chosen Surveyor ot the Port of Portland by President McKinley. It’s ironic that his father was himself a surveyor. He was not a rich man as wounded veterans of the Civil War were not provided with generous or even adequate pensions. In his writings and speeches he called attention to this in hopes of improving the system.

So today, we are here to dedicate this facility to one of the Giants of our State. A man who spent his lifetime in service to the people of the State of Maine and to his Country