There was an act of extraordinary patriotism last Friday morning inside Johnston War Memorial Park.
The American flag was everywhere, and the morning’s sparkling sun seemed to make the red, white and blue brighter than usual.
The banner was also perfectly placed between the two honor rolls that featured names of those “true heroes,” as Mayor Joseph Polisena wanted it known, “who paid the supreme sacrifice to protect our freedom.”
The highlight, as Johnston’s Memorial Day ceremony has come to be known for, was honoring the 42 residents who were killed during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Unlike previous years, though, the all-important reading of their names was delivered by two ranking Johnston Police officers, namely Deputy Chief Joseph P. Razza and Capt. Chris Correia, who rang the bell in honor of each deceased veteran.
There were many other mighty moments, like when the Matt Gingras’ Johnston High School chorus sang the national anthem and when Police Chief Richard S. Tamburini led the Pledge of Allegiance.
There were many other memorable moments throughout the course of the event. Police Maj. Thomas H. Dolan, a retired member of the U.S. Army, performed the annual reading of “In Flanders Fields.” Arthur Fortin of Nelson Mack VFW Post in Cranston placed the wreath on the bandstand monument and Johnston High School music director Ronald Lamoureux played taps.
In the middle of it all was Dan Mazzulla, Johnston’s long-serving parks and recreation director. Some research found that his late uncle, Anthony Mazzulla, served with the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
“We must always take time on this day to honor and remember those who gave their lives to protect the freedom we have always enjoyed in our great country,” he said.
Polisena also spoke about his late father – whose name is on the Honor Wall and was a decorated Korean War veteran – and the importance of the day.
“I hope that we just don’t think of Memorial Day weekend as Monday off or a get-together and backyard barbecue,” the mator said. “We should always think of our veterans past and present who have served all of us and our great country every day.”
The names of the 42 veterans and their branch of service that lost their lives protecting our freedom are:
WORLD WAR II, U.S. Army: Joseph DiDonato, Anthony Russo, Anthony Kwiatkowski, Anthony Riccitelli, Michael le Macera, William R. Mills, Harry C. Arnold, Anthony Ciarlo, William B. Thorpe Jr., Joseph Searle, George C. Harrington, Emery O. Picotte, James Paterson Jr., Alfred A. Chartier, Vincent Mongone, Rocco Stanish, William F. Hickey, Raymond DePetrillo, John A. Paglio, Carlo A. Coletti, Walter Charbonneau, Leo S. Arrigan, Raymond J. Herther, Walter J. Hagerty
WORLD WAR II, U.S. 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
WORLD WAR II, U.S. MARINES: Anthony Altieri
KOREAN WAR, U.S. ARMY: Anthony Mazzulla, John K. Burrows
VIETNAM WAR, U.S. ARMY: Ronald E. Blake, John F. Bulpitt
VIETNAM WAR, U.S. NAVY: Andrew J. Wang
VIETNAM WAR, U.S. MARINES: Alphonse Macchioni