First Cape Verdean Memorial Monument in U.S. unveiled Saturday
- 05/10/2018 11:45
EXETER, R.I. (WJAR) — The Cape Verdean Veterans Memorial Project unveiled the first monument in the nation that honors the military service of men and women of Cape Verdean descent at the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery Saturday.
Maj. General Gary M. Brito, the highest-ranking officer of Cape Verdean descent in the U.S. Armed Forces, was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.
"There is no better place than Rhode Island. Many people involved with our monument are also from Massachusetts, and all over the United States," said Lucy Rose, the Director of the Cape Verdean Veterans Memorial Project.
“It’s important to understand a year ago today we had the groundbreaking for the memorial. We made a commitment to build the memorial as quickly as we could in the target time.”
Rose, one of the driving forces behind the development of the monument, was also among many veterans who spoke to the crowd of veterans, families, friends and spectators.
Rose said the ceremony and grand gala held at the Venus De Milo restaurant in Swansea, Mass. featured over 300 attendees.
Lt. Col. Gary Correia, Lucy Rose, and Jack Alfonso of Riverside Stone, is the designer and creator of the Cape Verdean Veterans Monument. (Ron Barboza)
"We commemorate the military service of Cape Verdean Veterans in the United States and to pay tribute to our veterans who honorably served this country during war or peacetime," Rose said to the crowd of over 300 people. "It is an honor for me to serve our veterans our culture and our community in this capacity. Memorials are an important part of every culture and have existed in every culture for thousands of years to honor great leaders and unforgotten heroes."
Cabo Verde Minister of Foreign Affairs and Communities Luis Filipe, U.S. Congressman David Cicilline, RI Director of Veterans Affairs Kasim Yarn were among several political leaders and supporters who also spoke at the ceremony.
Rose said creating the memorial has been a "moving experience" as her father was a WWII veteran and her sister was a veteran. Rose said her Military Advisor Lt. Col. Correia was "very dedicated to the project" that took over five years to complete.
“Creating this memorial has been a moving experience,” said Rose. “People from many backgrounds came together to share stories, offer support, donate time and talent. This helped us forge a remembrance that honors our veterans.
There are over 20,000 people of Cape Verdean descent in Rhode Island, many in communities around Providence and Pawtucket.