EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When Rhode Island troops returned home from World War I, they were asked what meal they missed the most as a commemorative event for the first Veterans Day was planned.
Their answer: Hot dogs, chowder and beer.
That simple, American meal has been served every year since the first Infantry Lodge Associates ceremony.
A crowd of about 200 put up with a wind-swept morning at the Squantum Club on the Providence River, as Brig. General (Ret.) Thomas Fraser read the names of 38 men and women, each one followed by a stirring drum roll.
Richard Brousseau had come to the ceremony for a decade with his dad, who served in Korea.
“He wanted to see all his buddies who were in the military with him and to honor those that he worked with who have passed,” he said.
But it was different this time for Brousseau and his cousins, who also fought in Korea. His parents were on the list.
“Master Sgt. Henry A and Mary Brousseau,” Brig. General Fraser said.
Their son said it was “very, very special” to be there, even though he misses his parents.
“And I know they’re up there watching down now,” said Brousseau.
Noticing that some faces were missing from last year’s ceremony is something many of the veterans talked about as they heard the names called.
Ninety-year old Ted Lowe, who was in the 43rd Infantry, fought in the South Pacific in World War II and in Korea in the 1950s.
“I did hear a few names that I was shocked that I didn’t know because I don’t get around as much as I used to,” Lowe said. “And they passed. We all pass. That’s the rules.”
Lowe, who is Rhode Island’s Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, said he hopes Veterans Day helps us remember why the Rhode Islanders on the list and the ones who never made it home, risked everything.
“Freedom is so important,” Lowe said. “Nobody understands it except those who haven’t had it. And we take it for granted around in this country.”