Unlike most authors who host a book signing, Alden Weigelt will not sit at a table and sign multiple copies of his book for eager fans.

Instead, he will ask them to approach the real-life characters in his book for their signatures.

And those real-life characters will be at his book-signing, scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday at Blessed Hope Church on Pleasant Street in Waterville.

They include military warriors, veterans, police officers and others who have made sacrifices for us.

After all, Weigelt says, they deserve the attention, admiration and respect of his readers.

“They’re the ones that should sign this — not me — it’s their story.”

At 56, Weigelt, a Waterville police officer, has just published his first book, “Silent Maine Reminders.”

It recounts his experiences growing up in Waterville, surrounded by family, friends and others who either served in the military or whose ancestors served.

As a child, he heard their personal stories or those passed down through generations; the stories carry themes about loyalty and the importance of serving others, whether through military work or personal sacrifice.

“They guaranteed us to be able to disagree with each other, to be able to worship as we see fit,” Weigelt said. “I have beliefs and feelings because of Christian heritage but those freedoms are ensured, and these are the people who guaranteed them.”

Readers will recognize places he cites in the book — Waterville parks, cemeteries and monuments — all of which hold silent reminders of sacrifice.

The book recognizes not only Mainers, but also recounts significant events that occurred in Maine, including the 1963 crash of a B-52 plane flying a training mission over Greenville. Seven people died and two survived the crash; Weigelt interviewed a captain who flew on that mission.

He also writes about lesser-known events involving British Royal Navy pilots who honed their formation flying skills over Maine during World War II. Weigelt, a pilot himself, names British flyers who died here and notes in his book that British Corsair fighter aircraft were lost in training accidents in Maine.

The idea for his book began years ago at Blessed Hope, where Weigelt is a deacon and elder. He remembers hearing church elders share stories of their military experiences.

“My passion arose out of hearing these guys converse with each other. There was a lot of camaraderie among the elders. We’d do prayer breakfasts and the elders would cook breakfast. We’d be working in the kitchen and I’d listen. These guys are very humble; they’re quiet and they only speak about these things amongst themselves.”

Weigelt was troubled when Memorial Day came and there was no recognition of veterans in church. He decided to change that and did a presentation for Memorial Day — and for all Memorial Days thereafter.

“I mentioned the names of people that served who were members of our church,” he said.

Weigelt’s book, self-published through Maine Authors Publishing, is available at Maine Made & More shop, Amazon.com and MaineAuthors Publishing.com. Its website is silentmainereminders.com

Weigelt’s wife of 35 years, Debora, said he was passionate about the subject matter.

“It was all-consuming. Every waking moment he was not at work, he was at the computer and researching and wanting to make sure that everything was correct.”

Weigelt holds dear the concept of being a good citizen, according to his boss, Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey, who plans to be at the book signing.

An excellent hostage and crisis negotiator, Weigelt has good listening skills, is sympathetic, empathetic and has an understanding of life and people that sets him apart, Massey said.

“Alden’s just a great guy. He’s a great asset to this department. He’s well-liked and he’s got a great reputation as an up-front, honest guy who’s got a lot of personal integrity.”

Weigelt — who is not a veteran himself — says he’d like people to take away from his book an appreciation for the heroes about whom he writes.

“I want them to look at their own circle of existence — stand in the park and look at the plaques; I want them to be curious and inquisitive. Ultimately, I want them to be thankful for those people who stood in the way for them.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 24 years. Her column appears here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]

 


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