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Governor Chafee Announces First WaterFire Salute to Veterans

RIPTA to provide free rides to Veterans during the event

Providence, R.I. - Governor Lincoln D. Chafee announced today the first WaterFire entirely dedicated to raising community awareness and offering gratitude to Veterans, enlisted members of the military, and their families. The WaterFire Salute to Veterans is scheduled for November 9 at sunset, which is at 4:31 p.m., and will occur two days prior to Veterans Day when the nation pays tribute to the men and women who have served our country in the military. RIPTA will be providing free rides to Veterans from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the special WaterFire.

"I am pleased that WaterFire will be honoring the fine men and women and their families who have and currently sacrifice so much for our State. Rhode Island must be a place that honors and respects Veterans by doing all we can during and after their service." Governor Chafee said. "On behalf of the State of Rhode Island, I want to thank the major sponsor of this event, Alex and Ani, for supporting this salute to the men and women who have worn and are currently wearing the uniform of our nation."

During the WaterFire Salute to Veterans, Rear Admiral Walter E. "Ted" Carter, Jr., President of the U.S. Naval War College, will give the keynote speech.

"The men and women of the Rhode Island National Guard, who have served and sacrificed during a decade of war, are extremely humbled and appreciative of the outpouring and support from the great citizens of Rhode Island," Major General Kevin

McBride, Adjutant General and Commanding General of the Rhode Island National Guard, said. "The gratitude and genuine awareness of that sacrifice expressed by our citizens during this difficult period, is a point of pride throughout the entire force."

"Alex and Ani's Charity by design program is honored to sponsor the Providence WaterFire's Salute to Veterans on November 9, 2013," Alex and Ani CEO Giovanni Feroce said. "Our new relationship will continue our celebration of America's Veterans and help spread support for their service. We are proud to collaborate on such a wonderful event here in our hometown."

"WaterFire is proud to work with the entire community to honor and thank the Veterans who have protected our country and our freedom for generations. Freedom is the life blood of our nation and of art, and we offer this evening in thanks to the service of our Veterans. Communities are made stronger by all of us doing our part in service to the larger good. On behalf of WaterFire, our staff, board, volunteers and sponsors, we are grateful to so many who have given so much," Barnaby Evans, Executive Artistic Director of WaterFire, said.

"The Providence VA Medical Center is proud and honored to serve the Veterans of Rhode Island. WaterFire's Salute to Veterans dovetails with our mission by honoring Veterans who have sacrificed and served our Country. The on-site VA tents will be staffed by clinicians as well as specialists in disability benefits to meet individually with Veterans," Susan MacKenzie, Director of the Providence VA Medical Center, said. "We encourage Veterans and their family members to stop by, meet with our staff, and learn about the benefits they have earned through their military service to our Country."

The WaterFire will include a mix of arts and Veteran educational and advocacy activities including military recruiters in Station Park. In addition, Memorial Park will be alight with blue stars to honor the Blue Star Families of Rhode Island or those families that have a loved one serving in the military. Visitors are invited to attach their hopes, dedications, and thanks to our Veterans to these stars and the luminaria candle lanterns on the park floor.

Additional sponsors for the WaterFire Salute to Veterans include Bronze Star sponsor Citizens Bank and media sponsor the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association.

Chisholm Chisholm and Kilpatrick LTD, Amica Mutual Insurance Company, TACO and The White Family Foundation and Your Local Chevy Dealers have partnered on a Veterans Resource Fair. The Fair will open at 3 p.m. on Steeple Street and feature the Rhode Island VA and other Rhode Island organizations that provide services and support to Veterans and their families.

Banneker Industries helps to kick off the WaterFire lighting with a 100 Veteran Torch Procession and 200 Veteran Ring of Fire in Waterplace Basin starting at 5 p.m. It will be led by the Rhode Island Professional Firefighters Pipes and Drums. The presentation of the colors will occur while the National Anthem is being played by the Navy Band Northeast and the Army 88th Band on the basin stage.

Other special events include:

Starting at 6:30 p.m., WaterFire will activate all of the WWI, WWII and Korean War memorials in downtown Providence with special ceremonies at each one recognizing the service and sacrifice of all generations of Veterans.

WaterFire will also be hosting a "Welcome Home" tent to honor our Vietnam Veterans as well as a special Soldiers Cross ceremony for our Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans.

Gold Star Families will be recognized in the upper field of Memorial Park with one golden star for each Rhode Island family that has lost a loved one in the most recent conflict.

A Missing Man Table will also be set up in Memorial Park to honor and recognize all those soldiers that have gone into battle and have not returned. Full of symbolism, this table contains many items that remind us of the sacrifices of both military and civilian lives lost and affected through combat and military service.

A special ceremony of a flotilla of three memorial vessels will pass through the bonfires along the length of the river, between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., to honor and remember the service men and women that are no longer with us. Guests are invited to toss red, white, and blue carnations sponsored by the American Nursing Association/Rhode Island Nursing Association in honor of those that have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

WaterFire also invites, for the first time, members of the community to sponsor a brazier in honor of a Veteran. Each of WaterFire's braziers will burn brightly for the Veterans of our community throughout the evening.

"It is incredibly important that we, as a community, recognize the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in America's military," Governor Chafee said. "We look forward to celebrating through WaterFire all that they have done and thanking our Veterans face-to-face and as a community. Please join us."

WaterFire Providence is an independent, nonprofit arts organization whose mission is to inspire Providence and its visitors by revitalizing the urban experience, fostering community engagement and creatively transforming the city by presenting WaterFire for all to enjoy. For more information or to donate, visit: www.waterfire.org.

Related links

Department or agency: Office of the Governor

Online: http://www.governor.ri.gov

Release date: 10-28-2013

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