Boots on the Ground returns to Fort Adams

East Bay

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) ─ After it was forced to shift online last year due to the pandemic, Operation Stand Down Rhode Island’s annual Boots on the Ground display is picking up right where it left off.

The display, which features 7,000 pairs of combat boots adorned with American flags and name placards, honors the men and women who lost their lives in the Global War on Terror.

Of those boots, 29 represent Rhode Islanders who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“Last year was a sacrifice for so many people because of the pandemic,” Operation Stand Down’s Dee Dequattro said. “We had people with weddings canceled, people upset they have to wear masks, people mad that they can’t go out to eat. That sacrifice is nothing compared to [this].”

Dequattro said the memorial serves as a reminder that freedom isn’t free.

“Say ‘thank you’ to someone who served. Say ‘thank you’ to a Gold Star family for their sacrifice,” Dequattro said. “Remember this is the cost. I think what a Rhode Islander can do is come out and pay respect this weekend … Take a break from the BBQs and picnics and remember what this day is about.”

The memorial will be open throughout Memorial Day weekend. The public can visit the memorial at Fort Adams State Park between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday.

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