VIDEO: Woonsocket Memorial Rally — Signs and Voices

A few personal expressions of support for preserving the Place Jolicoeur Memorial.


More than a thousand people showed for a rally at Woonsocket Fire Department Headquarters answering a challenge demanding removal of religious symbols from the Place Jolicoeur memorial and Fire Department website.

WPRO's John DePetro introduced a long list of dignataries, including Mayor Leo Fontaine and Retired RI Adjutant General Reginald Centracchio on the stage, but people in the crowd made their opinions on the demands of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) known, too.

On the sidewalk in front of Fire Department Headquarters at 5 Cumberland Hill Road, Mikayla Bond, 11, sported a sign reading simply, "Save the cross." She was there with her sister, Cheyenne, 14, and their friend Savannah Russ, 13. MIkayla and Cheyenne's mom, Lois Bond, spoke for all four against the FFRF's call to remove the cross. "I think enough's enough," she said.

Nearby, Ray Paquet stood with a tall wooden cross with "God Bless America" printed across its horizontal timber.

Members of several veterans groups, including the RI chapters of the US Vets, Combat Vets and Disabled Veterans talked together, some standing, some seated in folding chairs. Tom Poole, who started a vigil at the site with a friend last Tuesday, was also with them.

One of them, Robert Lovell, a retired Providence policeman, Vietnam Veteran and a member of the RI chapter of the Combat Vets, said the FFRF was fighting the wrong fight. "It's just a symbol, same as at Arlington," he said, and shouldn't be the FFRF's concern.

Sami Wellington, a student at Mount St. Charles, spoke at the rally in support of keeping the Jolicoeur Place Memorial on Cumberland Hill Road intact at the invitation of master of ceremonies John DePetro of WPRO.

"I'm a seventh grader," Sami said, "I don't understand all the fancy terms, conversation and controversy over this monument, but I understand right from wrong. I believe this monument is a symbol of hope and pride and remembrance of our heroes, the kind of heroes I had a chance to meet in the past few months. And I'm kind of disappointed that an adult can overlook that this monument is for the soldiers who fought for our country and only see a cross."

Al Palazzo of West Warwick, a US Navy Veteran, sported a white flag with a canon in the center under a single black star. The words across the bottom: "Come and take it." Palazzo said the flag, a Gonzales Flag, was appropriate for the situation.

Carol Wilson-Allen May 04, 2012 at 01:35 PM
God is so good! Its a blessing to see and hear the people take a "stand" for what is right. This "cross" should stay where it is. Its in memory of Christians who lost their lives for the freedom of their country. God bless every individual who attended, even if some atheists were there, prayerfully they could see the power of God's glory, grace and peace in the midst of this rally! May God Continue to Bless America!
Doctor May 04, 2012 at 02:48 PM
There was a very polite young man who attended the event who was an atheists and I did speak to him and he did agree that the monument should remain at the current location. He was with a young lady who will graduate from college soon and will try to join one of the armed services as an officer candidate.
Dagny Taggart May 04, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I attended the rally and met some wonderful and genuine people. These people understand that this is NOT a religious issue and so they are very upset that an atheist organization is attacking it. The Cross is a symbol that predates Christ and it symbolizes much more than what the FFRF contends that it does. The FFRF should practice Tolerance. They are a bullying organization run by the wife of an ex Pentecostal Minister. When the story of the memorial unfolded at this rally there was not a dry eye in "the house". This is NOT about religion , it is about men who gave their lives in service to our country, 3 brothers in 1 family are memorized there as well as the original memorialization for Private Joliquer who gave his life and is buried in Normandy under a very similar cross. Being married to an atheist ,and he respecting my views and I his, has been an advantage to me in this experience. He has clearly stated that he is disgusted with the FFRF and if they were secure in their position they would not have to attack memorials such as this. I agree. Their Facebook Page has one member stating "This is an easy win, Woonsocket is going bankrupt" . So you see, to them we are but "another notch in their belt" of hatred. Their INTOLERANCE will soon swallow them up. I loved that there were many religious leaders, of differing religions at the rally defending this memorial. It did my heart good.
Dilberth May 05, 2012 at 12:08 AM
A few corrections are in order, Dagny. First, FFRF is not run solely by Annie Laurie Gaylor, wife of Dan Barker. Both are co-presidents of FFRF. Second, they do not bully. How does a letter asking the Mayor to remove the cross from the fire station portray FFRF as bullies? Third, it is all about religion and you know it.
la_mouffette May 05, 2012 at 03:25 AM
I disagree Dagny, I do think this is about religion-- the religion of the only four veterans it honours, insomuch as this monument was erected as a replica of the French gravestone in America for one Christian soldier who could not come home. I just don't think it's a violation of the separation of Church and State. I don't think it was erected to offend, oppress or proselytize anyone, and I don't think it represents the government promoting religion any more than the Latin Crosses, Stars of David or Wiccan pentagrams in Arlington do.
Pitlover May 07, 2012 at 06:47 PM
I think everyone who supports the memorial should put a white cross on their front lawns like I've seen springing up around the city. There's not a thing the FFRF can do about that!
Jim May 16, 2012 at 01:11 AM
I think everyone who truly supports this monument should not only put up a white cross, but a star of David, a crescent moon and even one of the symbols of atheism. If this is not about religion then the Bishop of Providence should not have spoken.
Russell Archambault May 23, 2012 at 07:37 PM
JIM; what is the symbol of atheism? hollow air?---- good points !


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