It seems as though we never go longer than a few years without engaging in an armed conflict, which has, unfortunately, made military deaths all too common.
At the same time, we must recognize the sacrifices of the brave men and women who have gone into battle to protect our way of life.
There are plenty of war memorials in South County that aim to remember and acknowledge all who have served, especially the local citizens who went to war and never returned.
Most sites are easy to locate, so stop by any time of the year if you find yourself with a few minutes to spare.
Veterans' Memorial Cemetery
In Exeter, the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery is a beautifully maintained burial site that features monuments honoring the veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, to name a few, throughout its grounds. In total, there are 31 monuments, and volunteers place flags on the gravesites on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
Those looking for a specific gravesite can look it up in the computer near the front gates. The graves are organized based on the war in which the veteran served, too.
Grand Pre Park Memorial
It's an incredibly subtle site. Still, the Grand Pre Park Memorial, also known as the Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Charlestown #100, is worth a visit because it pays tribute to the 27 Rhode Island soldiers who died in the Battle at Grand Pre in Nova Scotia in 1747.
You won't find a gate, a large statue, or even a parking lot here - the monument is made up of a small stone wall with a sign on a green space along the side of Carolina Back Road, across the street from St. Mary's Catholic Church. The park remains memorable, however, because it's small and quiet, and, depending on when you visit, decorated with American flags. Keep in mind that despite the park's name, there isn't a cemetery here at all, as it's purely a memorial site.
Wilcox Park in Westerly has quite a few memorials, starting with the on-site library building, as the Memorial and Library Association of Westerly was founded in 1892 to honor the soldiers who served in the Civil War.
Then, in 1937, the Westerly World War Memorial, which features the names of every local soldier who was killed in World War I, was built. In the following years, the town has surrounded that first statue with plaques featuring the names of those who died in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, turning it into an all-encompassing war monument.
The main memorial site sits right along Broad Street, making it easily accessible.
The Old North Kingstown Town Hall
At the old North Kingstown Town Hall on Boston Neck Road, you'll find the Civil War Memorial. This statue, which first appeared in 1912, is made of metal and depicts a Union soldier leaning on his rifle. There is another memorial across the street, as well, and this location is where the town's annual Veterans Day ceremony takes place.
Honor Roll Town of Narragansett World War
There is a park on Kingstown Road in Narragansett that is home a baseball diamond, some tennis courts, a brook, a playground, and the Narragansett Indian Monument. You'll also find a war memorial in this park, which is dedicated to all those who served in World War I. The plaque features the names of the soldiers, and there is an American flag in the background, as well.
Westerly – Pawcatuck War Memorial
On the Westerly side of the Pawcatuck River, just before heading over the bridge into Connecticut, you'll find the Westerly – Pawcatuck War Memorial. This statue features plaques dedicated to those who lost their lives during World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam Conflict and has the names of some of those soldiers.
Flags surround the memorial, which also includes a statue depicting a returning soldier with his children.
Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Memorial
Near the entrance of Ninigret Park in Charlestown, there's a marker dedicated to soldiers who lost their lives at the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Field, which was in service from 1943 to 1973. During those 30 years, 62 pilots died in training accidents at the field. The field was decommissioned in 1973 and later became Ninigret Park, which is one of South County's top recreational sites.
Visiting the Memorials and Monuments
It doesn't have to be Memorial Day or Veterans Day for you to pay your respect to this region's military veterans, as you can stop by any of these sites throughout the year.
By checking in and showing that you appreciate the efforts of the men and women who served in these conflicts, you're helping to remember their sacrifices and ensuring that they are never forgotten.
Of course, many of these venues also have special events on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, so have a look at the local calendar to see what is going on this year.