(WPRI) — This Memorial Day looked drastically different from last year’s, since it was the first holiday where all restrictions were lifted in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
A majority of Memorial Day events and parades last year were canceled or modified because of the pandemic.
Director of Veterans Affairs Kasim Yarn said last year was extremely hard knowing that families of the fallen could not be as directly involved in ceremonies.
“And to this day, I feel so bad that we weren’t able to honor them the right way we normally would,” Yarn told 12 News.
According to the R.I. Department of Health, there have been 11 COVID-19-related deaths at the VA Medical Center. The State Office of Veterans reported there were ten COVID-19 related deaths at the Veterans Home in Bristol.
This year though, Memorial Day events were held in person and adhered to current health guidelines.
“We have, at our Veterans Home, 98% of our veterans have been fully vaccinated. Across the state with our elderly population, who this virus has hit the hardest, 87% of those 65 and older have been fully vaccinated,” he said.
Lynn St. Germain-Lundh, whose son Sgt. Brian St. Germain died in the line of duty in 2006, says she’s thankful she’d be able to have a shoulder to lean on again this year.
‘The thing that makes my heart the warmest is the fact that I’m going to be able to see people again, some people I haven’t seen for since January of 2020,” St. Germain-Lundh said.
“It’s going to be nice to reach out, to have them reach out to me, to feel the community spirit again. That has been lacking during COVID,” she added.
Here are some events that were held across Southern New England to honor our fallen servicemembers:
9 a.m. — Bristol held its annual parade from Colt State Park to Burnside Memorial Building.
9 a.m. — East Providence held a motorcade starting at the Looff Carousel in Riverside, followed by a walking parade at 10:30 a.m.
9 a.m. — The Cumberland parade made its first stop in front of the Town Hall by the World War II monument for a ceremony, then proceeded toward the Mt. Calvary Cemetery to conclude with the traditional memorial service.
10 a.m. — The East Greenwich parade started at the Academy Field and concluded at 11 a.m. at the World War II Memorial on the corner of Cliff Street.
10 a.m. — North Kingstown held a wreath-laying ceremony at the Civil War Memorial at the town hall located at 80 Boston Neck Road. It featured time for prayer, a vocal and bagpipe performance, the presentation of colors, a rifle team volley and the bugle call TAPS.
10 a.m. — Pawtucket held a ceremony to honor the Anniversary of Memorial Day in remembrance of all the men and women from the city who have perished while wearing the uniform of our Armed Services. It took place at Pawtucket City Hall in the Amphitheatre.
10 a.m. — South Kingstown held a parade through town and a wreath-laying ceremony was held at Saugatucket Park on High Street around 11 a.m.
10:30 a.m. — Woonsocket gathered to recognize those who have sacrificed their lives for the nation at the United Veterans Council Armed Forces Park on Davison Avenue. The ceremony featured brief remarks from speakers and a presentation from the Police and Fire Department Honor Guard and Boy Scout Troup #2.
12 p.m. — In Fall River, a traditional military observance was held at Battleship Cove, honoring the fallen and Gold Star Families with the raising of the American flag from half-staff and a 21-gun salute.
The Boots on the Ground for Heroes Memorial is open to the public at Fort Adams State Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday.