Military, family honors 1776 war hero

Steve Lyons kneels beside the gravestone of his great uncle, Captain Richard Mayberry, who was honored recently as a patriot who fought in the American Revolutionary War. (De Busk Photo)

Steve Lyons kneels beside the gravestone of his great uncle, Captain Richard Mayberry, who was honored recently as a patriot who fought in the American Revolutionary War. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO – The morning sun streamed in patterns through the trees as a handful of people gathered at the gravesite.

The man who was buried under the stone in Mountain View Cemetery lived 200 years ago. He was a farmer who “answered the call to war,” and fought under George Washington in several key battles against the British.

Attending the modest ceremony were two brothers, Steve and Francis Lyons, who were born five generations after Captain Richard Mayberry.

As is done for fallen heroes of war-time, the American flag was unfurled, refolded and presented to a relative, Francis Lyons. Meanwhile, Steven read a written statement outlining the battles in which Mayberry fought before returning to his farmland in Casco.

Following the ceremony, Francis turned to his brother and said, “I got choked up.”

“Remembering those people who fought for and helped make this country free is very important to my brother Steve and me. The fact that Captain Mayberry was our relative makes the memorial even the sweeter,” he later said.

During the graveside speech, Steven Lyons thanked those in attendance at Captain Mayberry’s memorial.

“I especially want to thank the Maine National Guard, who has graciously come to provide a ceremonial honor guard and presentation of flags,” he said.

This type of observance is offered through the Military Funeral Honors program, which is based in the Augusta State Armory.

In retrospect, Steven Lyons said, “While the ceremony was taking place and the flag of Captain Mayberry was being presented, I was both honoring and telling my forefathers both in deed and action that the flags of our fathers have been carried on, if not in, the bloodstream (as quoted by President Ronald Regan) but, also through instilled family values of sacrifice, and public remembrance of their duty for all to see.”

Mayberry served in the Patriot Army from 1776 through 1778. He fought in the battles of Stillwater, Valley Forge, Hubbardston, and Monmouth.

When the Continental Army took control of Dorchester Heights, located in South Boston, Mayberry and his fellow Patriots were assigned there to fend off attacks by the British.

According to accounts now available on the Internet, the fighting in Monmouth, N.J., was referred to as the Battle of the Monmouth Courthouse. With more than 300 dead on each side, no one army was considered the clear winner of that battle.

But, that battle that occurred more than two centuries ago is not forgotten.

“We are completely indebted to Captain Mayberry for his military service and sacrifice, so we can continue to live in a free and democratic society with representation,” Steve Lyons said.

Mayberry was born in 1735 and died in 1807. He was killed when a tree fell on him while he was clearing farmland in his hometown of Casco.

“Even though Captain Mayberry has been deceased for over two hundred years, today we still were remembering his military service,” Steven Lyons said.

“It’s important to honor all Americans who not only fought or served in our military, but also to honor all those who fought for civil rights and other freedoms we sometimes take for granted,” he said.

“I think President Regan said it best, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. Or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free,’ ” Lyons said.

His family has a long history of military service, he said.

Steven’s and Francis’ father served in World War II from 1942 through 1945. Their grandfather fought in World War I while stationed on the U.S.S. Utah in Europe. Their second great grandfather, Cyrus Osborn, enlisted during the Civil War and fought at Gettysburg. As a member of the 20th Maine, Osborn was wounded during the Battle of Little Round Top, Lyons said.

Steven said he was in the Marine Corps in Japan and Korea and Dublin, Ireland — to name a few of the places where he was stationed overseas.

Back in America, the Lyons’ father began to research their family tree.

“He set the foundation for me. So, there was already a lot of information,” he said.

Steven’s indebtedness grew in a straight line rather than with a sudden spike.

“There was no eureka moment for my appreciation of Captain Mayberry, of his military service. All his military service was quite remarkable,” he said.

“Certainly, the deplorable conditions at Valley Forge and the battles where hundreds of men were killed make me eternally grateful not only to Captain Mayberry, but also for all those who have served,” Lyons said.

“War is terrible but sometimes necessary to live a free society and to maintain our national interest and way of life,” he said.

It may have not seemed incredible - even to those Revolutionary War patriots who returned home and continued their lives after the battles, but they had took up arms and cleared the path for a free America.

“Many people forget about those sacrifices made by Captain Mayberry and other members of our military. It is not only important to remember Captain Mayberry’s courage, but also to remember the personal attributes Captain Mayberry displayed in his sacrifice of self for the betterment of the whole,” he said.

“The military ceremony was just one way of honoring Captain Mayberry’s courage and sacrifice. It also serves as a reminder for us not to forget these sacrifices made by our military every day,” Steven Lyons said.

For more information about the Military Funeral Honors program, go to www.funeralhonors.org or call 1-800-958-5967.

 

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