Johnston holds somber Memorial Day service

By Pete Fontaine
Posted 6/1/17

Perhaps Saturday’s gray skies and threat of rain were appropriate for Johnston’s annual Memorial Weekend Service.

“Our world is a very frightening place,” Mayor Joseph Polisena said at the …

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Johnston holds somber Memorial Day service

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Perhaps Saturday’s gray skies and threat of rain were appropriate for Johnston’s annual Memorial Weekend Service.

“Our world is a very frightening place,” Mayor Joseph Polisena said at the outset of his keynote address. “But what keeps us strong is that our enemies know that we have four branches of the military that is the best in the world and would deliver a crushing defeat to our enemies if need be.”

Polisena, who spoke with emotion in his voice and in memory of his late father whose name is on the Wall of Honor and was a decorated Korean War veteran, later said, “For it is fear from our enemies that keeps our country strong and our military is always ready and willing to defend our country no matter where or when.”

With Polisena leading the way, Johnston celebrated Memorial Day during an impressive ceremony that was filled with pomp and circumstance from military men, women and town officials inside War Memorial Park.

The theme on the day’s program, which was designed especially for Saturday’s ceremony by Vin Jackvony of the Johnston Parks and Recreation Department, read: “Let our future remember our past.”

There was yet another important notation on the program cover – “In memory of those who paid the supreme sacrifice” – that tugged at the hearts of men like Johnston Police Major Thomas H. Dolan, US Army retired, Lt. Colonel Gary W. Maddocks, US Army retired and JPD Sgt. Dennis Peacock, US Marine corps retired.

Dolan, who was wearing a green beret, performed the ceremonial reading In Flanders Fields, a war poem written during the first World War by Canadian physician Lt. Col. Jon McCrae who was inspired to write it on May 3, 1919 after presiding over the funereal of a friend and fellow soldier Lt. Alexis Helmer who died in the Second Battle of Ypres.

As history has it, In Flanders Fields is one of the most popular and most quoted poems from the war.

Maddocks, meanwhile, read each name of the Johnston natives whose names are affixed to the Wall of Honor while Peacock performed the ceremonial bell ringing after each deceased veterans name was read.

“It is because of those veterans – and those who are currently in harms way – why we enjoy freedom and live in the best country on earth,” Polisena said. “America is America because of our veterans, not because of those politicians in Washington who embrace our flag only on Memorial and Veterans Day.”

As Maddocks documented during his reading of the names, those veterans are, World War II-Army: Joseph DiDonato, Anthony Russo, Anthony Kwiatkowski, Anthony Riccitelli, Michael Macera, William R. Mills, Harry C. Arnold, Anthony Ciarlo, William R. Thorpe Jr., Joseph R. Seale, George G. Harrington and Emery O. Picotte.

Also, James Paterson Jr., Alfred A. Chartier, Vincent Mongone, Rocco Stanish, William F. Hickey, Raymond DePetrillo, John A. Paglio, Carlo A. Coletti, Walter Charboneau, Leo. S. Arguien, Raymond J. Herther and Walter J. Hagerty.

Navy: Robert Moran, William B. Richardson, Arthur LaPrade, Edwin Carlson, James F. Cavanaugh, Raymond B. Smith, Joseph Carrara, Jr., Raymond Draper, Alfred A. Ricci, George Spink and Bernard Pitocco.

Marines: Anthony Altieri; Korea: Anthony Mazzulla, Army; John K. Burrows, Arm; Vietnam: Donald E. Blake, Army; Alphonse Macchioni, Marines; Andre J. Wang, Navy; and John F. Bulpit, Army.

The ceremony, which was hosted by Mike Bedrosian of the Johnston Parks and Recreation Department, was also enhanced by JPD Chief Richard S. Tamburini, who led the Pledge of Allegiance and Deputy Chief Daniel O. Parrillo, Major Joseph Razza and Lt. Stephen Guilmette who made up one of two color guards, the other being provided by the Rhode Island Army National Guard.

Likewise, five talented Johnston High School students – trumpeter Edward DiLorenzo, Jr. – and chorus members Isabella Parrillo, Madison Paolucci, Matthew Eisemann and Kathleen Jaroma delivered powerful renditions of the National Anthem, God Bless America and America the Beautiful.

Johnston State Reps. Stephen Ucci and Deborah Fellela also took part in the impressive ceremony.

Before DiLorenzo sounded his trumpet playing taps, three members of the Rhode Island National Guard fired a three-gun salute into the morning’s silence.

As Polisena said in his closing remarks: “On behalf of all of the Johnston residents, I want to thank or veterans – past and present – for what you have done and those who continue to do to protect our country. Thank you and God Bless You and God Bless America!”

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