Banners honoring Burrillville’s ‘Hometown Heroes’ now on display

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BURRILLVILLE – New flags have been raised in Pascoag and Harrisville, brightening the streets while honoring the living heroes who served in U.S. conflicts of the 1940s and 1950s.  

Heavy, vinyl banners with the pictures, names and dates of service of Burrillville residents who fought in World War II and the Korean War fly on eight poles on the Bridgeway and Memorial Bridge. 

The banners are a project put together by the American Legion Berard-Desjarlais Post 88, an attempt to honor the former soldiers for their service while they are around to enjoy it. With most who served in the wars now in their 80s, 90s and beyond, the mission gives the project some urgency.   

The flags, created with money raised through the post’s successful furniture sale fundraisers, will fly on the bridges through July 4 this year, and will be given to the service members’ families when they die.   

The town lost one hero from the Korean War since post Commander Raymond Trinque first started the effort last year.

A banner honoring the late Ralph Palmieri, who served in the U.S. Army from 1948 to 1956, now hangs on the Memorial Bridge. 

“We thought his should go up at least once,” Trinque said. 

The idea, Trinque said, came from a similar project at a hall in Putnam, Conn. American Legion Post 13 launched its Hometown Heroes Banner Project in 2017, hanging tributes to 30 living veterans throughout Putnam.

In Burrillville, new 24 X 38 inch flags on the Bridgeway honor George Barber,  who served in the U.S. Army in World War II from 1944-1946; Leo Fortin, who served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in WWII from 1943-1946; Zane Sherman, who served in the U.S. Marine Corp during the Korean War from 1951-1952; and Donald Forgue, who served in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1952-1954.   

In addition to Palmieri’s banner, those honored on the Memorial Bridge include Eugene Franklin, who served in the Army Air Corp in WWII from 1942-1945; Joseph Makowski, who served in the Navy in the Korean War from 1953-1957; and George Ducharme, who served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War from 1952-1954. 

Trinque said he is still hoping to honor more former military members from the two conflicts. To take part, a veteran or member of their family just needs to provide a picture and details of their service, and the flags will be created and hung at no cost. 

Next, the post will to move on to veterans from other wars, starting with Vietnam.

“We hope to get more next time,” Trinque said.

While the project began long before locals had ever heard the phrase “social distancing,” Trinque said he hopes the new additions will, “put a smile and pride during this tough time.”

Anyone interested in honoring a veteran is asked to contact Richard Peck at 568 8491 or rpeck14@cox.net

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