Why 2 flags are noticeably missing from the RI Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery

South County

EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) — The two flag poles in front of the Rhode Island Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery remained barren this Veterans Day, but not by choice.

Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services Director Kasim Yarn said the 50-foot flag poles at the cemetery’s entrance have major cracks in them.

The poles were deemed unsafe to fly flags on, Yarn said, after the damage was discovered during an inspection conducted in Tropical Storm Henri’s aftermath.

The weight of the flags combined with strong wind gusts likely put stress the pole, Yarn said.

Yarn said the state immediately contracted to have the poles replaced, but it hasn’t been an easy process.

“We work through Narragansett Flags and they’ve been backlogged,” he explained. “Unfortunately, with the supply chain issues, they’ve been on backorder.”

Once the new poles arrive, Yarn said the damaged ones will be removed and replaced.

But it’s unclear when the new poles are scheduled to arrive, since Yarn said they haven’t been given a delivery date yet.

Despite the missing flags, Yarn said dozens of others were flying on undamaged flag poles across the cemetery.

The Levesque family spent their Veterans Day remembering their loved ones who served.

Ann Levesque, 92, of North Kingstown, said they were visiting the graves of her husband Richard, a World War II veteran, as well as her father-in-law Alfred, who served in World War I.

“We have 14 other flag poles throughout the facility that have no damage. If you go through, you’ll see them right there as well,” Yarn added.

“My husband loved ginger ale and wafer cookies, so my daughter brought wafer cookies and ginger ale down,” Levesque said. “We all had a toast.”

“We’re all about family and thanking the people that served our country,” Levesque’s granddaughter Kate Knight added. “It’s not just about us, it’s about being grateful for other people and why we’re here today.”

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