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Rhode Island's first Gold Star Families Memorial Monument unveiled

May 15 2022
Gabrielle Caracciolo | WJAR 10

EXETER, R.I. (WJAR) — Rhode Island's Gold Star families gathered Sunday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Exeter for the unveiling of the state's first Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.

"We are a big part of what they did and what they died for, so we don't want to be forgotten also," Gold Star mother Sharon Serio Valente said.

It took four years of planning and raising about $100,000 for the monument to be completed.

It's now Rhode Island's only spot honoring Gold Star families, who lost a loved one in service to their country generally at a time of war.

"The worst pain you could feel is to lose a child in any manner," Regina Roberts, Gold Star mother of Cpl. Holly Charette, said. "We want our children to be remembered."

Several families worked to make the monument possible.

Frank Toner's son, Lt. Francis Toner, was killed in Afghanistan in 2009.

"He was recipient of a Silver Star and the Bronze Star, Purple Heart," Toner said. "He saved multiple people that day and charged the shooter himself."

Lynn St. Germain-Lundh's son, Sgt. Brian St. Germain, was killed in Iraq.

"When he was asked why he volunteered for so many convoys, that was the most of anyone in his unit, he said because there are so many of my fellow Marines who have wives and children, I want to spare them," she said.

Ron Gill is the Gold Star father of Petty Officer Ronald Gill Jr.

"We wish we never met each other," he said of the group that worked on the monument. "That's the sad truth, we would trade anything for one more moment."

They said monument isn't just for Gold Star families , they want the public to visit and reflect, too.

"We want our children to be remembered so any name, say their name," Roberts said. "They won't be forgotten."