On Friday, Aug. 20, over 100 people gathered under Post 85’s pavilion in Woonsocket to enjoy a night of comedy to benefit the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument project.

Legionnaire Bill Grizwold organized the event along with comedian Jay Burns. Comedians Cory Gee, Jaylene Tran, Will Wells and Kindra Lansburg joined in the fun to round off an evening of laughter for a great cause. Post 85 donated 100 percent ($1,472) of the proceeds to the GSFMM project. The fundraising goal is $100,000, and this event helped bring the total to nearly $67,000.

Gold Star families are those who have suffered the loss of a family member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States. The groundbreaking for the Rhode Island Gold Star Families Memorial Monument was held on Oct. 20, 2019, at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Exeter. However, the pandemic caused delays and then cancellations of all the fundraising efforts to build their monument. The dedication is now scheduled for May 15, 2022.

The monument is two-sided, made of black granite. The front side bears the words: “Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a tribute to Gold Star Families and Relatives who sacrificed a Loved One for our Freedom.” The other side tells a story through the four granite panels: Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice. The scene on each panel reflects each community’s Gold Star families and their fallen heroes. At the center of this tribute is a silhouette of the loved one who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom.

General donations can be made to United Way of RI (memo: GSFMM), c/o United Way of RI, 50 Valley Street, Providence, RI 02909. Online donations can be made to www.woodywilliams.org/monuments/ri-veterans.html.

Jenn Durkin, a family member of one of Rhode Island’s fallen, Pfc. Kyle Coutu, said, “This monument will be a visible reminder and marker, not only for my loved one, but for all the young men and women beside him who were taken from us too soon. It will also serve as a visible reminder to the Rhode Island community about the sacrifices they all made and to remember the very proud families who continue to struggle every day with their absence.”

Help the community of Rhode Island build this monument for their Gold Star families.

VFW awards nearly $600K in aid to student veterans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Together with Sport Clips Haircuts, the Veterans of Foreign Wars is proud to announce 130 student veterans will receive nearly $600,000 in scholarships for the fall 2021 semester, courtesy of the VFW “Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship” program. 

“Whether fighting overseas or fighting a pandemic here at home, our service members and veterans sacrifice so much for our country, and the VFW is proud to work with Sport Clips to offer them this vital resource in their quest for higher education,” said VFW National Commander Fritz Mihelcic.

“The Help a Hero scholarship is a simple, yet powerful way for Sport Clips to support our nation’s heroes,” said Gordon Logan, Air Force veteran, VFW Life member and founder and chairman of Sport Clips. “These funds are often life-changing for the recipients and we are proud of the impact it has had on thousands of veterans and service members over the years.”

Established in 2014, the Help A Hero Scholarship program awards service members and veterans with post-secondary scholarships of up to $5,000 to help them achieve their educational goals without the burden of student loan debt. To date, the Help A Hero 

Scholarship program has awarded more than $9.2 million in scholarships to more than 2,050 service members and student veterans.

Rashod Wynn, an active-duty service member of the U.S. Navy and 2021 fall scholarship recipient attending Liberty University, said, “I plan to use this scholarship to gain a bachelor’s degree in finance so that I can become eligible to convert from an enlisted sailor to an officer in the U.S. Navy, functioning as a liaison and a voice for hardworking sailors who I have served alongside. After my active-duty career, I aspire to use my finance degree to serve as a financial planner for under-represented, minority, and rural communities — communities that I am a product of. This scholarship will help me pursue a success that nobody in my family has achieved.”

Scholarship applications are currently being accepted for the 2022 spring semester. 

This day in military history

1778 — The Battle of Rhode Island, also known as the Battle of Quaker Hill and the Siege of Newport, took place. Continental Army and militia forces under the command of Gen. John Sullivan were withdrawing to the northern part of Aquidneck Island after abandoning their siege of Newport when the British forces in Newport sortied, supported by recently arrived Royal Navy ships, and attacked the retreating Americans. The battle ended inconclusively, but the Continental forces afterward withdrew to the mainland, leaving Aquidneck Island in British hands. The battle took place in the aftermath of the first attempt at cooperation between French and American forces following France’s entry into the war as an American ally. The operations against Newport were to have been made in conjunction with a French fleet and troops; these were frustrated in part by difficult relations between the commanders, and a storm that damaged both French and British fleets shortly before joint operations were to begin. The battle was also notable for the participation of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, a locally recruited segregated regiment of African Americans. It was the only major military action to include a racially segregated unit on the American side in the war.

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