NORTH SMITHFIELD – Communities across Rhode Island have created spaces of remembrance for victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and North Smithfield is no exception, with 76 banners now displayed on the lawn in front of Town Hall.
Each flag represents a person from town who lost their life to the pandemic, as part of a national movement to provide a place of mourning for those they left behind.
Artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg first began a project dubbed, “In America, Remember,” with an installation on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The movement was later replicated on the state level, with an observance brought to Rhode Island by the Council of Churches known as Rhode Island Remembers.
Roughly 4,000 of the white flags blanketed the lawn of the Rhode Island State House for a week last month, providing a stark visual reminder and acknowledgement of the lives lost statewide. The flags were then given to each community in Rhode Island with the suggestion that town officials create their own space of mourning.
“They left it to our discretion what we wanted to do with them,” explained town Recording Clerk Tiffanie Reilly.
Staff from the North Smithfield Highway Department created the installation just below the U.S. flag at 83 Green St.
“It was a team effort,” Reilly explained.
Residents are invited to visit the display to reflect on loved ones lost to COVID-19 – and as with the initiative at the state house, they are welcomed to write a brief message or name to honor those who have passed.
The flags will remain in place at Town Hall until Friday, July 22.