JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Memorial Day weekend is a time to pause and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Even amid all the changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, they can still be honored.
“We want to remember the veterans who put their lives in danger for us and kind of want to say thanks and stuff,” Tucker Condon said.
Local scouts spent their Saturday morning placing American flags at the graves of service members inside Highland Memorial Park Cemetery in Johnston. The scouts also learned the name of the person resting eternally there, as well as when they served our country.
David Slinko served in the Marines. He taught his son Andre the importance of service while helping him place flags.
“I salute every Marine, former Marine I see in here that died, sacrificed for their country. Also Army, Navy veterans, Coast Guard, all the branches of the service. They’re all represented here. Goes back to the Civil War some of these,” he said.
The gesture is something Pack 20 of Johnston does every Memorial Day weekend, but usually dozens of scouts gather for a ceremony and then they go out together, laying the flags as a group. This year, COVID-19 changed that practice; they had to adhere to social distancing.
“They each get different sections within the cemetery pretty far apart from each other. Everyone’s asked to bring masks and gloves and each family is going to get a section to do. When that section’s over, it’s their time to leave the cemetery, and after about an hour, someone else comes with their family,” Pack Leader Mark Daponte said.
In all, about twenty families signed up to volunteer at the cemetery over the course of this three-day weekend.