For over fifty years, the Lady of the Sea has stood in silent vigil, admonishing the wind and the waves to remain quietly respectful of the men lost or buried at sea during World War II. In the face of furious New England Nor'easters and scorching blasts of summer heat, her unflinching granite countenance challenges the bitter elements. Her protective defiance of all that would threaten the peace of those souls claimed by the sea, remains as steadfast and constant as the New Hampshire stone from which she is carved.
It was Memorial Day, May 30, 1957, when the Lady of the Sea monument was completed and dedicated at Hampton Beach, NH. After a five year struggle with the federal Government trying to establish a national grave site monument in Washington for his son, Captain William D. Downs buried at sea on May 25, 1945, William E. Downs finally found support for his idea in NH. In 1950, NH Governor Sherman Adams created a commission dedicated to bringing such a memorial to the NH seacoast. Seven years later, the dream of William E. Downs was "set in stone".
After reviewing numerous proposals for the memorial, the "New Hampshire Marine Memorial" commission selected a design submitted by a local artist from Concord, NH, Alice Cosgrove. Alice chose the inscription on the base from a 1714 poem written by John Gay entitled, "An Epistle to a Lady" to honor Captain William D. Downs and all those lost or buried at sea.
The message on her lips, "Breathe soft, ye winds, Ye waves in silence rest" is by no means meant to be taken lightly.