WESTERLY — Local veterans are planning a special ceremony to be held at the War Memorial at the corner of Grove Avenue and Granite Street to mark the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day. As was the case when the holiday came into being as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I, a moment of silence will be observed during the proceedings at precisely 11 a.m.
“The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, that was when the armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918,” said Ed Liguori, who along with other members of the Westerly War Memorial Committee is helping to organize and plan the event.
Liguori is hoping to get the word out early to ensure that those who might like to attend can plan for the event. It will be held on the actual day of the holiday, a Sunday. The observed day of the holiday is the following Monday.
The ceremony will have a special orientation toward World War I veterans and will come 81 years to the day that the World War I memorial at the site was dedicated. In subsequent years the spot grew to include plaques that recognize veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
“We can’t forget the World War I veterans and we also can’t forget the other veterans,” Liguori said.
During the ceremony the committee will dedicate five new granite benches that will be installed at the memorial. Currently being built by Comolli Granite, the benches will also be used as a barrier to protect the memorial from potential damage in the event of a motor vehicle accident such as one that occurred about 20 years ago, causing about $75,000 in damage, Liguori said.
A variety of dignitaries will be invited to attend and participate in the ceremony, Liguori said.
The 86-year-old Liguori and the committee raised about $16,000 for the benches and other improvements, to recognize each branch of the country’s armed services. Liguori served in the U.S. Army as a teletype operator in Fontainebleau, France, from 1952 to 1954.
“I still believe in the old traditions,” Liguori said.
Walter Kimball, a member of the committee, has a similar perspective.
“I remember those days. When I was growing up we had a moment of silence on the 11th hour of the 11 day of 11th month,” Kimball, 83, said.
Kimball said he and other members of the committee have been gratified by the support shown by the community as funds were raised for the benches. Kimball was drafted and served 16 months in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
“I’m a veteran, so yes, the ceremony is significant. It’s a big deal to me,” Kimball said.
Kimball expressed gratitude for all the work Liguori has put forth on fundraising, the memorial, and the upcoming ceremony.
“He’s an inspiration to a lot of people, especially to me,” Kimball said.