PROVIDENCE – The General Assembly has approved bills sponsored by Rep. James N. McLaughlin, D-Cumberland, and Sen. Roger A. Picard, D-Woonsocket, to create a commission that will designate monuments for historical and cultural significance.
The legislation establishes a Category One Memorial Designation Commission consisting of five members. Two of those members – one of whom must be an elected official – shall be the speaker of the House’s appointments from a list of nominations provided through the chairperson of the R.I. Historical Society. The president of the Senate would appoint the other two – one who shall be a member of the Rhode Island Veterans of Foreign Wars and another who shall be a member of the American Legion – from a list of nominations from the adjutant general of the Rhode Island National Guard. The remaining commission member would be a spouse or a child of a deceased veteran.
The legislation was crafted in response to the controversy in April over a white cross displayed in front of the Woonsocket Fire Department headquarters. An organization called the Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote a letter asking the city to take the memorial down because of its religious symbolism, and thousands rallied in support of keeping the monument where it is because of its secular value.
The war memorial stands as a dedication to the soldiers who died in World War I and World War II. •