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Hand-carved Eagle Honors Veterans at SMVMC

Hand carved eagle

A hand carved wooden eagle honors veterans at Southern Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

Photo: Joe Doiron

By Zendelle Bouchard

The Southern Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Springvale has a beautiful new hand-carved wooden eagle gracing the Committal Shelter. The eagle was created by James McCain of Portland, founder of Eagles for Veterans, a nonprofit organization that provides the carvings free of charge to veterans’ organizations across the country.

The eagle is approximately four feet high and three feet wide and was made from eastern white pine using a historic design by John Haley Bellamy (1836-1914), a nationally known folk artist from Kittery who specialized in carved wooden eagles. The eagle is decorated with 23K gold leaf and holds crossed flags painted in red, white and blue. McCain uses a special primer and exterior paints to protect the eagle and give it long-lasting beauty. Each eagle takes 165 hours to create.

Roger Watson, a trustee of the Cemetery Association, oversaw the project, which included installation of the eagle on a metal bracket. The bracket was designed by Evan Kubik and Joe Lindstrom, students in the Sanford Regional Technical Center’s Engineering and Architectural Design program. It was fabricated by Nick Martine and Dylan Charron, students in SRTC’s Welding and Metal Fabrication program. Local mason Paul Brigham donated his time to install the bracket. The eagle was hung in its place of honor on March 28. The carving was installed in front of a window so it can be seen from inside or outside the Committal Shelter.

McCain, 80, retired from a successful business career in 2018 and began woodcarving full time. After creating many works for family and friends, he began carving to honor veterans, inspired by his father, a career officer in the U.S. Navy. He and Jim Oliver, a retired healthcare administrator, carve the eagles and present them to VFW and American Legion Posts and other organizations. McCain is currently working on eagles for the Maine Veterans Cemeteries in Augusta and Caribou and plans to create one for the Veterans Park in Lewiston.

SMVMC is located at 83 Stanley Road. The gates are open to visitors 24 hours a day. You can learn more about Eagles for Veterans and make a donation to help defray expenses at

James McCain stands below the eagle he carved

James McCain stands below the eagle he carved, gilded and painted to honor veterans.

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