Students, Providence VA honor veterans with ceremonies

(From Katie Fitzgerald)

(WPRI) — Men and women who served their country, including former prisoners of war, were honored Thursday morning in a ceremony at the Providence VA Medical Center and a ceremony at the Warwick Neck Lighthouse.

At the medical center, Rhode Island’s congressional delegation expressed their gratitude for the sacrifice of the veterans present, and for service members who remain missing. A table and hats symbolizing several missing in action was ceremonially set by a Junior ROTC contingent from Hope High School.

“I was raised in a tradition of respect for the service that you all have provided,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the son of a Marine who served in World War II and Vietnam. “I certainly remember the Vietnam-era veterans, and the disrespect they faced when they came home. I think we’ve at least begun to make up for that.”

Rep. Jim Langevin encouraged those in attendance to honor veterans every day for their service, not just on the calendar holidays that spotlight them. Rep. David Cicilline added, “It’s more than just saying ‘Thank you for your service.’ We need to be sure we have people in government who are making sure our priorities are for our veterans and reflected in budgets we pass… I’m proud to be part of a delegation that does that every day.”

Sen. Jack Reed, son of a World War II veteran and himself a West Point graduate and Army veteran, related a story of a recent trip to join deployed troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Part of the trip was on a C-130 with members of the Rhode Island Air National Guard.

“I felt right at home when I got off the bus to go to the plane,” he said.

The service member who greeted him had an unmistakable Cranston accent.

In Warwick, students from Warwick Neck Elementary’s third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades gathered at the Warwick Neck Lighthouse to honor veterans, with Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard veterans in attendance as well as active duty Coast Guard members.

Friday, several events paying tribute to those who served their country include a 5k run in Providence, an event at Rhode Island College to raise awareness on veterans’ homelessness, and a ceremony at United Veterans Armed Forces Park in Woonsocket.