WOONSOCKET – Veterans from across Rhode Island and neighboring communities are invited this Sunday, Oct. 17 to an event aimed at honoring the region’s contributions to World War II both at home and abroad.
American Legion Post 85 and the Heritage Harbor Foundation will hold a site dedication for a new World War II Memorial at an event to include local and state dignitaries as speakers and a symbolic lighting of an “eternal flame.” The ceremony will include a military flyover, performances by the 88th Army Band and the U.S. Navy Band, and the presentation of military honors for soldiers who never received the honors at their funerals.
The service, originally scheduled to be held last year, will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the war, with the expansion of an existing monument in honor of a prior conflict: World War I. The monument by the River Street post, erected roughly three years ago, has been enlarged to feature a millstone and steel girders – signifying the region’s industrial role in the WWII effort – and an engraving paying tribute to the more than 180 soldiers from Woonsocket who died in the conflict.
The monument will feature 13 flags commemorating the 13 major events of the war, also memorializing wars fought in the time since, including the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. At the base, plaques will serve to inform visitors about the events.
Visitors are invited to stop by the post beginning at 10 a.m., and view a display of military artifacts by the city’s Veterans Memorial Museum, including one of the original rubber tanks used as part of General George Patton’s “ghost army,” and a military truck show.
“This is the biggest event for veterans in Rhode Island,” said Glenn Dusablon, a North Smithfield resident who runs the museum. “You don’t want to miss it.”
A speaking program begins at 3 p.m. and will feature a flyover with WWII planes. One individual from each of Rhode Island’s five counties and a sixth individual from Massachusetts is expected to symbolically light an “eternal flame,” honoring those who died in the war. Gov. Dan McKee, Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt and U.S. Sen. Jack Reed are expected to be among those in attendance.
A closing ceremony will include performance by the U.S. Navy Band, followed by a free dinner, open to the public, and served by veterans of Post 85.
The committee planning the event has extended a special invitation to WWII veterans from across Rhode Island and neighboring communities in Massachusetts, but the dedication is also open to member of the general public.
To take part, just visit the post at 870 River St. between noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Oct. 17.