‘Memorial Day to us is everyday’: Loved ones lay boots of fallen soldiers in Newport
NEWPORT, R.I. (WLNE) — As packed streets and busy crowds took over downtown Friday, dozens at Fort Adams stood in silence, remembering their loved ones at the Boots on the Ground for Heroes Memorial.
Family, friends, and state leaders like Gov. Dan McKee placed boots of the 29 fallen service members of the Ocean State since 9/11. They were placed alongside 7,026 other American boots on the same ground.
“Just a tough time,” said Ron Gill, a parent of a fallen Rhode Island soldier. “For us, Memorial Day is every day. It’s something different. It’s not about the hot dogs or a three-day weekend. It’s to memorialize all the young men and women who gave their lives serving our country.”
Gill’s son, Ronald, a Coast Guard Port Security Officer, died serving in 2007.
Alongside families who also lost loved ones, Gill was saddened that those who gave the ultimate sacrifice are often overlooked this weekend.
He explained, “It gets lost. It’s the most expensive day of the year, because there are so many lives to have this day. People just don’t know that or have forgotten that.”
With a message to Rhode Islanders, Gill concluded, “Go to a cemetery. Visit a veteran who gave his or her life for this country. Speak to them. Say their name out loud. They’ll hear you.”
The Boots on the Ground for Heroes Memorial will be open to the public through Memorial Day.