NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — An emotional ceremony for Gold Star families in Rhode Island was held Friday night at the “Boots on the Ground” display at Fort Adams State Park.

One by one, all 29 Gold Star families in Rhode Island were able to place a set of boots on the ground in honor of their fallen heroes.

The “Boots on the Ground” memorial consists of 6,957 boots – with flags and name placards – to honor each of the service members killed in action post 9/11.

Of those almost 7,000 boots, 29 symbolize Rhode Island’s fallen heroes. One set is for Marine Corporal Brian St. Germain.

St. Germain was a graduate of West Warwick High School, where he excelled as an All-State track star and hurdler. In 2006, he died while serving his second tour in Iraq.

“It’s tough,” Lynn St. Germain-Lundh, Brian’s mother, said. “When you hear Memorial Day, you think of others and their sacrifice, and I think of Brian’s sacrifice.”

Over the past 13 years, St. Germain-Lundh has worked tirelessly to honor her son’s memory. She said the Gold Star Gala on Friday night was no different. 

“Every time I do it, it just hits home more,” St. Germain-Lundh said. “The sacrifice he made for the freedoms we enjoy.”

St. Germain-Lundh added a set of boots to the memorial for her son, as she has all four years the “Boots on the Ground” memorial has been displayed.

“To actually put a boot out with the placard, with the face of each fallen, with a little synopsis of that fallen service member. It touches everyone that comes through here,” she said.

St. Germain-Lundh said the display is a sobering reminder of the true meaning of Memorial Day weekend.

“Have your parties, have your barbecues, do all of that. But take time to remember why we have this weekend,” she said.