The Rhode Island Military Youth Council will lead off the 47th annual Gaspee Days Parade this Saturday. Children involved with the R.I. Military Youth Council will carry the historical Rhode Island Mace down the parade route. The parade stars at 10 a.m.
The suggestion to involve children in the Gaspee Days Parade from R.I. military families was Gaspee member Mark Russell’s idea. Russell came across this group, Rhode Island Military Youth, and what caught his eye was their slogan, “We serve, too.”
Russell said, “I have seen reunions on TV of families being reunited after someone has been deployed and it has stuck with me. Sometimes we just don’t see all that feel the effects of a parent being in harm’s way. I’m glad to hand the R.I. Mace to them to lead this year’s celebration as a way of reminding all that “they serve, too.”
Russell contacted Holland Orfan, the state youth coordinator for the R.I. National Guard Family Program, to see if the children would be interested. Children from the youth council are working with Holland to “identify issues facing military youth in R.I. and find ways to resolve them.”
The Rhode Island Mace has been carried at the head of the Gaspee Days Parade every year since the first observance of Gaspee Days in June 1966. The mace has been used in the inaugural ceremonies for Rhode Island governors by the high sheriff of Providence County since Governor Charles D. Kimball was sworn in on Jan. 7, 1902. Children from the R.I. Military Youth Council will now be part of this history.
The mace, made of historic fragments of wood, is closely associated with the historical backgrounds of the state and the nation. The eagle on the top of the mace was carried through the Civil War on top of a staff, which wore a Union battle flag. Part of the wood was once taken from the much-hated British revenue schooner H.M.S. Gaspee, which was burned after being caught on a sand bar off Gaspee Point on the evening of June 9, 1772.