It’s an honor to stand with my colleagues today as we recognize the service and sacrifice of the young men that we are honoring today. I would like to acknowledge:
- Family members, friends of SGT Dennis P. Weichel
- Family members, friends of L/Cpl Abraham Tarwoe
- Gold Star Families with us today
- Blue Star Families with us today
- Major General McBride
- Members of the military & veterans
- Colleagues in government
- Patriot Guard Riders
- Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association
- All leadership of RI veteran’s organizations
As your lieutenant governor, I want to thank all of you here today--our brave leaders and service men and women, active and retired--from the RING and our other Armed Forces. You are the reason we are able to salute our flag, the reason we may live and think freely.
There are simply no words to express to the families here today the gratitude of our state and our nation for the dedication, service, and sacrifice of their sons, Sergeant Dennis P. Weichel and Lance Corporal Abraham Tarwoe. And to all Gold Star families, our state and our nation thank you for the service of your sons and daughters, who are no longer with us, also being honored today in the Garden of Heroes.
This is a day of mixed emotions. There is great sadness among us as we remember Dennis and Abraham, representing the best of our state, and taken away from us far too soon. There is a heavy feeling of loss among us today that will always remain with their families and friends, and all those who crossed their paths.
Yet, also among us there is a tremendous sense of pride in these outstanding young men. Pride in that we were privileged to know them, pride in their service on behalf of our country, and pride in you— their immediate family— who shared them with us. For Dennis, Abraham and all those we honor here, they performed their duty with courage, honor, and dignity, and we are as grateful as we are saddened.
Today, we come together as a community to pay tribute to Dennis and Abraham to honor their commitment to service, and to recognize their ultimate sacrifice.
Although this ceremony is a simple act, it is a powerful act of remembrance for those Rhode Islanders who have bravely served and selflessly given their lives to protect our country and our freedoms. Acts of remembrance—such as our gathering here together—help us to ensure that we will never take for granted how fortunate we are and never forget the courageous service of our Armed Forces, especially the young men and women who are memorialized here at the Garden of Heroes.
The Garden itself was designed to be a place of solitude and contemplation, a living symbol of the sacrifices that Rhode Islanders have made for our freedoms. The Garden is a subtle yet powerful reminder to all who work or visit here, the State House, that our freedoms do not come without cost.
So while our ceremony in remembrance of SGT Weichel and L/Cpl Tarwoe, and all of the heroes on the memorial stone, is a somber one, it is also a celebration and a thanksgiving for all of the gifts that we’ve been given in our lives. In essence, all of us here today should honor these young men by appreciating and living each day to the fullest – as they lived their lives.
For the families of our fallen heroes, I understand—as a wife and mother—there can be no solace for the loss of a child, no solace for the loss of a husband or a wife whose name appears on this stone. There is nothing anyone can say to ease your pain, so we express our gratitude to those we remember today. They have earned an honored place in history and a special place in our hearts. And they have found their eternal rest. They are American soldiers, American heroes, and they shall never be forgotten.