Pouring rains across the state caused some Memorial Day events to be canceled, but continued as planned. In Woonsocket, a ceremony to honor the fallen was moved from a memorial park to City hall. The last-minute change didn’t keep dozens of people from showing up to the green-walled city council chambers in the building downtown.
City and community leaders spoke, recited poetry, and recognized those who died in combat, as well as all veterans. A singer led the crowd in a capella renditions of “Proud to be an American” and “God Bless America.” Two trumpeters from the Woonsocket High School band played taps during a wreath-laying.
Vietnam veteran Ernie Boisvert served in an army platoon of about 25 men from 1966 to 1967. He remembers two of his unit who died overseas.
“Jim Blanchard and Al McCutcheon,” said Boisvert. “They were in my platoon, my company, and they were killed in Vietnam. And they were honored by having a bridge dedicated. And I will remember that all my life. I never had a brother as a sibling, I have three sisters. Those were my brothers.”
Boisvert hopes Memorial Day reminds people to thank veterans, including the many women who’ve served and -- he said -- are too often overlooked.
“You’ve got to honor those people too,” said Boisvert. “When they see a bunch of veterans together, don’t be afraid to ask if some of the females that are there, ‘did they serve?’ If they didn’t they’ll say no, but if they did, at least give them a thanks.”
Sharron Zapor served in Women’s Army Corps from 1965 to 1966. She was stationed at Fort Ord, in Monterey California.
“I was in the Vietnam era, but back then they weren’t sending women unless they were medical,” said Zapor. “We weren’t even allowed to pick up a weapon let alone fire one. All the men going to Vietnam from Fort Ord, California went through out office and I made sure their paperwork was in order.”
Zapor said she hopes civilians who haven’t served recognize the sacrifices made by members of the armed services.
“They should realize that we wouldn’t have the life that we have if it wasn’t for the military and veterans who fought for our rights,” said Zapor. “And to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, like my brother.”
Zapor’s brother, Corporal Robert Francis Hardy, died in Korea in 1950 at age 20.