Each flag represents a lost life.
And like the pain society felt throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, each Ocean State city and town has its proportionate share.
“It has been a very busy last few months but well worth it as we had a successful Rhode Island Remembers: COVID -19 Memorial that helped bring solace and closure to many Rhode Islanders who lost loved ones during the pandemic,” said Fred Faria, of Warwick, the memorial initiator and coordinator.
Around 4,000 Rhode Island residents have died from COVID-19.
Faria and Rev. Eugene Dyszlewski joined forces to spearhead a statewide COVID-19 flag memorial, which featured a small white flag for each of the Rhode Island lives lost to the virus.
The Rhode Island Council of Churches presented “In America: Rhode Island Remembers” on the Rhode Island State House lawn. The “sobering art installation” displayed nearly “4,000 flags recognizing each Rhode Islander lost to the pandemic,” according to the organization.
The State House lawn memorial was eventually dismantled and dispersed throughout the state.
“In America: Rhode Island Remembers” is “a sanctioned echo” of the original project “In America: Remember” by artist, Susan Brennan Firstenberg.
The artist’s installation blanketed the National Mall in Washington D.C. with more than 660,000 white flags last fall, and were intended to show “the magnitude of our loss as a nation, while honoring each person who has died from COVID-19,” according to the council.
“Our memorial was the only statewide COVID -19 Memorial.to take place in the nation,” Faria said last week. “We further kicked it up a notch by distributing the flags that were at the statehouse to each Rhode Island municipality for local memorials to honor their own COVID -19 deaths at a site of their choice to make it truly a statewide community based event.”
Faria has been collecting photographs of the memorials set up in each city and town. In Johnston, the local memorial can be found in front of Town Hall, at the intersection of Atwood and Hartford avenues.
For more information, visit www.CouncilofChurchesRI.org, or the artist’s website, www.suzannefirstenberg.com/in-america-remember-suzanne-firstenberg/.
(Sun Rise photo by Rory Schuler)