Charlestown Honors Veterans on Memorial Day

Rhode Island state representatives Blake Filippi and Lt. Commander Bob Lancia, the keynote speaker, socialize with residents after the parade.
Rhode Island state representatives Blake Filippi and Lt. Cdr. Ret. Bob Lancia, the keynote speaker, socialize with residents after the parade.

Rhode Island state representatives Bob Lancia, Cranston District 16, and Blake Filippi, from our District 36, marched in the Charlestown Memorial Day Parade on Sunday and were joined by the Charlestown Police Department, Troop 15 and Town Councilors Tom Gentz, Virginia Lee, Denise Rhodes and Bonnie Van Slyke among others. The parade worked its way down Route 1 A from South Kingstown to the  intersection with Route 1.

Lt. Col. Ret. James Haldeman was the grand marshall.  He retired twice from the Marines and returned to active duty after 9/11.  Accomplished as a pilot and leader, Haldeman exudes the character of a Marine: smart, physically fit, loyal, hard working, faithful and humble.  He’s someone who convinces everyone he meets he can get any job done.

Lt Cdr. Ret. Bob Lancia and Lt Col Ret. Jim Haldeman, parade marshall, brought dignity and honor to Charlestown by their presence.
Lt Cdr. Ret. Bob Lancia and Lt Col Ret. Jim Haldeman, parade marshall, brought dignity and honor to Charlestown by their presence.

Charlestown residents were honored to have had the opportunity to meet him and thanked him for his service to our country and for his participation. A Holy Cross graduate, he now lives in West Kingston and flies a 737 for American Airlines.

Lt. Cdr. Frederick “Bud” Cooney, USCG Ret., was the  parade marshall emeritus and arrived in a 50th Anniversary Mustang provided by Flood Ford.

The keynote speaker, Lt. Commander Bob Lancia of Cranston, was a Navy chaplain and now serves with our state representative Blake Filippi in the general assembly.  A graduate of Cranston High School East, Rhode Island College, the Andover Newton Theological Institute (ANTS) and the United Theological Seminary, he energized those in attendance with reflections about service, the ultimate sacrifice and meeting the needs of those returning from war with combat injuries and stress.  He ended with a recitation from the Jewish Book of Prayer, “We Remember You.”  His dramatic delivery was inspirational, and those in the audience left thankful they had encountered Representative Lancia.  He added that saying “yes” to service was the hallmark of veterans of all wars and should be the response of citizens to veterans currently in need.  Rep. Lancia serves on the state’s Veteran’s Affairs Committee.

Town Council President Tom Gentz, a Navy veteran himself, also thanked the veterans in attendance for their service and asked each of the 300 assembled to reflect on what he or she could do to make the best of those rights. freedoms, and accompanying responsibilities…so, we can be the best Charlestown we can be.”

He thanked the Wakefield Concert Band under the direction of Barry Lieberman and the volunteers who made the celebration possible.