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Warwick Memorial Day Post Pandemic: Reflection & Rain

A man an boy walk along a flag-lined road inside Pawtuxet Memorial Park on Memorial Day, 2015.
A man an boy walk along a flag-lined road inside Pawtuxet Memorial Park on Memorial Day, 2015.
A man and boy walk along a flag-lined road inside Pawtuxet Memorial Park on Memorial Day, 2015.
CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Jacob Burrows tows his niece, Mary Burrows, around the Warwick Veterans Memorial on West Shore Road on Memorial Day in 2016. Following them is Mary's grandmother, Debra Burrows.
CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Jacob Burrows tows his niece, Mary Burrows, around the Warwick Veterans Memorial on West Shore Road on Memorial Day in 2016. Following them is Mary’s grandmother, Debra Burrows.

WARWICK, R.I. — Officials, veterans and citizens last gathered to observe Memorial Day in 2019 around the City Hall World War 1 memorial, but a vaccine-assuaged pandemic this year makes ceremonies and outdoor gatherings in particular a safer prospect.

“As we all know, Memorial Day is not a happy occasion. It’s is a solemn, sober occasion,” said the late former Mayor Joseph Solomon during brief remarks in 2019 before he and Councilman Timothy Howe placed a wreath before the memorial during the city’s pre-pandemic ceremony honoring those who died in service to the country, defending the United States under an oath to preserve the Constitution.

This year, a rainy Memorial Day forecast may yet keep somne indoors despite the lessening dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic. But if the past is any guide, many will not be deterred by inclement weather as they honor service members’ sacrifices. It’s not the first rainy Memorial Day weekend in Warwick by a long shot.

Pawtuxet Memorial Park

This year,  Pawtuxet Memorial Park, routinely bedecked with flags for the national holiday, will hold off on putting the flags up on Saturday, according to noted photog Lincoln Smith, whose parents, Rev. Lincoln and Charlotte A. Irwin Smith, are interred there. The flags get very heavy when they get wet and sometimes the poles snap. But, Smith said, they will have flags up on Sunday and Monday from 9 – 5.

Pawtuxet Rangers, Pawtuxet Historic Cemetery #3

Each year on Memorial Day, the Pawtuxet Rangers conduct an important observance in the Pawtuxet Historic Cemetery #3 on Post Road. The long standing traditional ceremony is used to explain the meaning and history of Memorial Day, that it is a holiday for honoring those who have lost their lives in military service to our country.
“The Pawtuxet Cemetery has a number of Pawtuxet Rangers buried there so it is a fitting place for this observance,” said Adrian Beaulieu in announcing the event.
Prayers are offered and a solemn musket volley is fired. Amazing Grace, Washington’s Artillery and Soldiers return are played by the fife & drum in honor of our fallen heroes.
The public is invited to attend, 1 p.m. The cemetery is located on Post Road (there is no street #), just outside the Village.

Warwick Veterans Memorial Park, DAV

Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick), along with Sal Caiozzo, commander of Chapter 9, Disabled American Veterans, will be hosting a wreath laying and flag retirement ceremony at Warwick Veterans Park on Memorial Day.
“Just as there is a protocol to display our nation’s flag, there is also an equally respectful manner to dispose of one,” said Representative Vella-Wilkinson, a retired naval officer. “We have been holding a flag retirement ceremony at St. Benedict parish for nearly 10 years. The ceremony is history-laden and quite beautiful. It is a wonderful way to teach children the meaning of Memorial Day rather than relegating it to be merely the start of summer beach days.”
The event will take place on Monday, May 31, at 10 a.m. at the park at Warwick Veterans Middle at 2401 West Shore Road. The general public is invited to bring their old or tattered U.S. flags to be retired as part of the Memorial Day service. To prepare the flag, participants are asked to cut the red and white stripes into strips; the blue field of stars may remain as a solid square.
“This is a beautiful ceremony, which we didn’t do last year because of COVID, but now we’ll be able to do it properly” said Commander Caiozzo. “The wreath we’ll be laying was made and donated by a local woman, Karen Gundlach. The Chapter 9, DAV Chaplain James Hickey will deliver the invocation and various members will be speaking.”
Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at editor@warwickpost.com with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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