The Gaspee Days Parade is always led by the historical Rhode Island Mace, a wooden object that has been used in inaugural ceremonies for Rhode Island Governors since the swearing-in of Governor Charles D. Kimball in 1902.
This year, the mace will be in the hands of two youth delegates of the Rhode Island Military Youth Council who will be accompanied by children involved with the council. They will lead the parade route through historic Pawtuxet Village for the forty-seventh running of the parade on June 9, part of a weekend of celebration in honor of the
The idea to involve the youth council came from Mark Russell, a member of the Gaspee Days Committee.
The youth council's slogan, "We serve, too," caught Russell's eye.
"I have seen reunions on TV of families being reunited after someone has been deployed and it has stuck with me. Sometimes we just don’t see all that feel the effects of a parent being in harm’s way," he said. "I’m glad to hand the RI Mace to them to lead this year’s celebration as a way of reminding all that 'they serve, too.'"
Gaspee Days is also about service. The H.M.S. Gaspee was a British ship used as part of Britain's crusade to tax the colonies and intercept the smuggling trade that was flourishing in Narragansett Bay and other inlets and waterways. Its commander, Lt. William Dudingston, was an elitist and arrogant Navy officer who garnered little mercy when he was shot in the groin by a group of angry colonists who ambushed the ship after it was stranded on a sandbar in pursuit of the Hannah, a colonial boat en route to Providence that had no intention of stopping for British tyrants.
The ship was set on fire and its powder kegs exploded. The event did much to tip the colonies into war with Britain and is increasingly being recognized as a pivotal moment in the American Revolution.
The Mace is made of historic fragments of wood and even contains wood from the Gaspee itself. The eagle on the top of the mace was carried through the Civil War on on top of a Union flag battle staff.
The Rhode Island Military Youth Council invites youths aged 12 to 18 to join. They have trips, meetings, training sessions and engage in community service projects.
They meet the second Saturday of each month from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at 89 Rolfe Sq.
For more information, you can e-mail Holland Orfan at firstname.lastname@example.org.