Ceremonies, parades pay tribute to local veterans

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — This Veterans Day, people around Southern New England took some time to honor the brave men and women who have served in our country’s military.

Gov. Gina Raimondo led a ceremony Monday morning at the Rhode Island Veterans Home in Bristol. She was joined by members of the congressional delegation and other state leaders including Veterans Services Director Kasim Yarn and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea.

Yarn and Gorbea said they plan to visit a number of veteran-owned businesses in the state on Tuesday.

More than 65,000 veterans live in Rhode Island.

The weather forecast calls for dry and pleasant conditions throughout the day on Monday.

In Middletown, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for a new veterans memorial at Paradise Valley Park, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony. U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee and an Army veteran himself, served as the keynote speaker.

“We are here today to remember and recommit ourselves to the values that so many generations of Americans have fought and died for,” Reed said.

The memorial features six stones representing each branch of the armed forces and was made possible by donations from several community members and businesses.

The Navy Band Northeast hosted its annual Veterans Day Parade through the streets of East Greenwich.

In North Kingstown, wreath-laying ceremonies were held at the town hall Civil War Memorial and the memorials in Veterans Memorial Park before the town’s parade.

The families of U.S. Army Capt. Matthew August and 2nd Lt. Matthew Coutu were in attendance. Both hailed from North Kingstown and were killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“It was the ultimate sacrifice and hopefully it wasn’t in vain,” August’s father, Richard August, said.

“Everyone just has to remember to thank our veterans today,” Coutu’s mother, Donna Coutu, said. “Hug them, do something for them, buy them a coffee…not just today. Every day.”

“As much as it hurts, I know he died doing what he wanted to do: protecting his men and being out there in the field,” she added.

Two men who served in World War II were honored by other local veterans at the Ballou Home on Mendon Road in Woonsocket.

Rudy Kroft, 96, and Armand Pontbriant, 97, were surrounded by family and friends during the ceremony Monday afternoon.

Both spent time reflecting on their service and said they’re thankful to be honored on Veteran’s Day.

State offices and public schools are closed in observance of Veterans Day. There’s also no mail delivery nor trash pickup.

A number of restaurants and stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts are offering special deals for veterans on Monday.

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) will operate on its holiday schedule and service is free for all veterans. More information »

Veterans Voices: Honoring Those Who Serve »

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