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Memorial Day 2024: A time to remember

Levin J. Newcomb Jr. Christ Church Cemetery

Recently, I attended a family wedding on Maryland’s eastern shore, staying overnight in the small village of Cambridge.  To pass the time between nuptial obligations, I decided to walk around the town.  At the corner of Church and High Street, I encountered the Christ Episcopal Church and its accompanying cemetery, which I later learned has served as a burial ground dating to the 1690’s.  My innate curiosity led me through the iron gates to stroll among the gravestones. I discovered that four former Maryland Governors are buried there, along with generations of local parish families.  Time and weather have rendered many markers nearly illegible, but one stone slab, adorned with an American flag, caught my eye.

Levin J. Newcomb Jr. was born April 27, 1918.  He died June 19, 1944…in Normandy, France.  Captain Newcomb was just 26 years old.  His marker records he was a member of Co. A, 115 INF, 29th DIV.  It’s reasonable to assume Captain Newcomb was the Company Commander.  The marker is engraved with the crossed rifles of an infantryman and the blue and gray yin and yang patch of the 29th Infantry Division. It includes the scripture, “Greater love hath no man but that a man lay down his life for his friends”. At the top are the words, “IN MEMORY OF,” a phrase that intrigued me.  Why were those words necessary?

It turns out Captain Newcomb’s final resting place is actually Plot G, Row 25, Grave 7 in the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.  He never came home to Dorchester County.  It was common in that era for service members to be interred close to where they died.  Many families, seeking closure or hoping to create a physical connection to their loved ones, placed tributes in their local cemeteries.  Those markers allowed them to share their experience of loss with others in the community and perhaps cope with what must have been nearly intolerable grief.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.  It’s the 80th anniversary of a campaign between June and September of 1944 that saw some 29,000 Americans killed-in-action.  Today, it’s impossible to know the positive impact the fallen might have had on their families and communities across our nation had they survived the war.  Robbed of life’s bounties and promise, we’ll never know how soldiers like Captain Newcomb would have contributed to the greater good of society.  I imagine him sitting in a pew in Christ Church with his wife, June, and young son, Richard, enjoying tasty Maryland crab at picnics, quietly being a pillar of the community…rarely talking about his experiences in combat.  But it was not to be.  His brave commitment to a calling greater than himself is his legacy.

Captain Levin J. Newcomb Jr., and others like him, are why we pause and reflect each Memorial Day.  Understandably, I’d never heard of Captain Newcomb before my unplanned wandering through that small, timeworn garden of remembrance.  Yet, I’m honored to have learned a little more about him while researching this message.  More importantly, I’m reminded of our explicit duty to “Never Forget” the contributions of our fallen…wherever they may rest in peace.

The American Battle Monuments Commission estimates that nearly 130,000 service members are buried in American military cemeteries in 10 foreign countries, including France.  The cemeteries are located in Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Panama, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Tunisia.

Thank you for joining the Dawson & Associates family this Memorial Day in honoring the service and devotion of our Nation’s heroes.

Maj. Gen. (Ret) Rick Stevens

Senior Vice President

A former Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rick joined our firm in 2018.


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