Torch procession and WaterFire Lighting Ceremony
Banneker Industries helps to kick off the WaterFire lighting with a 150 Veteran Torch Procession and 300 Veteran Ring of Fire in Waterplace Basin. WaterFire invites you to join us just after sunset as Veterans of our community process into the basin led by the RI Professional Firefighters Pipes and Drums. Here they will join their brothers and sisters in arms to surround the basin in a ring of fire ceremony with a presentation of the colors as the National Anthem is played by the Army 88th Band on the basin stage.
Starry, Starry Night
Throughout the evening, the Starry, Starry Night installation in Memorial Park at WaterFire is will be filled with blue, glowing stars representing Rhode Island’s Blue Star families and softly lit luminaria that cover the park floor. Visitors throughout the night will bring their hopes and dedications to Rhode Island families who have a Veteran in their family and affix them to these lights of the night. In this way WaterFire honor our Veterans by transforming the Starry, Starry Night field into an illuminated park filed with celebratory thanks and wishes for our Veterans.
Memorial Park Events
Missing Man Table
The Missing Man Table serves to honor the memory of fallen, missing or imprisoned military service members. Every piece of this touching memorial has a special meaning and we invite you to join us in taking a moment to think about our soldiers that are no longer with us or are missing.
- The table is round: showing our everlasting concern for our men and women still missing.
- The tablecloth is white: The cloth symbolizes the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.
- The napkin is black: Symbolizing the “dark hearts of some politicians” and other leaders in government who haven’t tried to bring our soldiers home and who have forgotten them…
- A single red rose, is displayed in a vase: The red rose reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and of their loved ones and close friends who keep the faith and await answers concerning their missing family member or friend.
- The vase is tied with a red ribbon: which is a symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing. Although the ribbon has been temporarily broken, it is still firmly in our grasp and we will continue to search.
- A slice of lemon on the bread plate: reminds us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.
- A pinch of salt on each bread plate: symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers.
- The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country.
- An inerted glass can be seen at the place setting: The inverted glass symbolizes the POW/or MIA’s inability to share in this evening’s meal.
- There is a chair tilted forward against the table: as though being saved for someone. The empty chair symbolizes that although these ones we recognize now… are missing, they are not forgotten.
- The candle is reminiscent of the Light of Hope: which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.
This evening’s missing man table is presented by Rolling Thunder® Inc., RI Chapter 1.
The Tomb Stone used in the ceremony represents the cumulative graves of every man and woman who has served and died for this country. The Battlefield Cross or Battle Cross is a symbolic replacement of a cross on the battlefield or at the base camp for a soldier who has been killed. The Soldiers Cross is made up of the soldier’s rifle with its muzzle buried in the ground, a helmet on top, dog tags hanging from the rifle and the boots of the fallen soldier next to it. The folded American Flag represents the people, of a proud and grateful nation, for whom the soldier fought and died for.
The practice of the Soldiers Cross started during the American Civil War or maybe earlier as a means of identifying the bodies on the battleground before they were removed. Today, it is an immediate means of showing respect for the fallen. Used less today as a means of identify the fallen but more as a private ceremony among those still living as a means to mourn, as attending the funeral is not always possible for soldiers still in the fight. Tonight’s ceremony is being performed by Rolling Thunder® Inc., RI Chapter 1.
The World War I Memorial, located in Memorial Park on the river front at College and S Main Streets in Providence, was built to honor those from Rhode Island who died in the First World War. The granite memorial, designed by architect Paul Cret, was erected in 1929 and stands 150 feet high.
The platform below the granite central pillar contains four bronze plaques, depicting a battleship, airplane, tank, and machine gun. The plinth has four large faces separated by the insignia of the various branches of the service. The faces of the platform are also inscribed with the city’s dedication of the monument and quotations by Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The lower portion of the column contains a memorial frieze that symbolizes the virtues of Providence’s citizens during the war and above the frieze are the major battles in which Rhode Islanders fought. A band of stars surrounds the top of the fluted pillar; together, they represent the stars and stripes. The heroic figure of Peace stands atop the pillar.
The World War II memorial in Memorial Park on South Main Street was built to honor the 96,000 Rhode Islanders who served in WWII. Each of the 8 granite columns is inscribed with the names of the major battles and campaigns of WWII on their inner face. The monument itself is surrounded by a granite walk way and retaining wall, engraved with the seals of each of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns.
Four contemplation benches flank the entrance in front of the honor roll walls inscribed with the names of the 2,560 war casualties of Rhode Island service men and women. Each of these benches highlight one of the four freedoms outlined in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s State of the Union Address, commonly known as the Four Freedoms speech, given on January 6, 1941: Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
Korean War Memorial
The Korean War Memorial was erected in 1995 to express the everlasting gratitude of the people of Rhode Island to the men and women of our country who served in the Korean War. The memorial was designed to represent the spirit of service, the willingness to sacrifice and the dedication to the cause of freedom that characterized all of the participants. The Korean War Monument and Memorial Walkway in Providence’s Memorial Park was dedicated on October 8, 1995 in honor and tribute to the 39,000 Rhode Islanders who served out country during the conflict.
The center of the memorial is a bronze sculpture of a soldier depicted by the renowned artist Robert Shure as being on guard, isolated and alone, but not forgotten. His hands intensely hold his rifle while his head is down against the cold and biting wind, yet his eyes are staring into the distance. He exemplifies the fact that freedom is not free.
The white bricks in the Memorial Walkway are engraved with the names of the 145 Rhode Islanders who were killed in action and the 55 Rhode Islanders still listed as missing in action. The red bricks in the walkway are engraved with the names of veterans who have been remembered by their friends or families.
2014 marks the 61st anniversary of the end of the Korean War.
Welcome Home Tent
Unlike the soldiers and military men and women of other wars and conflicts in which the United States was a part, Vietnam veterans were not welcomed home with parades nor national sentiments of thanks for answering the call to service. There is also no Vietnam War Memorial, as of yet, in Providence.
Please visit the “Welcome Home” tent in Memorial Park, erected just for Vietnam veterans and their families to give thanks to a generation of Veterans that often go unrecognized for their sacrifice to their country. Information will also be available on how you can help build a Vietnam War memorial here in Providence recognizing the over 31,000 Rhode Islanders and other Americans that served.
Memorial Canoe Ceremony
Veterans Day is a celebration in recognition of those Veterans still with us but, it is important that we recognize and honor those Veterans that are no longer with us, many of which gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom. During the lighting on November 8th, WaterFire will launch a memorial canoe ceremony to honor Rhode Island’s past Veterans. Gliding among the fires, a memorial vessel filled with flowers, lanterns and a flag honors those veterans that are no longer with us. Carnations tagged with an inspirational quote will be handed out throughout the installation and guests will be encouraged to toss them into the canoe with their remembrances of our fallen soldiers.
Thank you to Charles River Canoe & Kayak Outfitters of Newton, MA for their tremendous help in providing canoes for this special ceremony.
VIDEO: View a past Memorial Canoe Ceremony – In Memory of Dan Forman: