“If ever a state was at the center of the American war effort in World War II, it was Rhode Island,” veteran political reporter Scott MacKay wrote in a 2010 essay. “From Westerly to Woonsocket and everywhere in between, Rhode Island was focused on winning what has become known as, in Studs Terkel’s famous words, ‘The Good War.’”
The Navy had a huge presence in Rhode Island during the conflict, and three future presidents — John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush — all did some of their training in the state. “During World War II, Rhode Island was an armed camp,” Christian McBurney and Brian Wallin argue in a recent book about the state during the war.
The local manufacturing industry also went into overdrive, supplying everything from ships and blankets to medals.
Victory Day in Rhode Island isn’t just something we do to get an extra day off at a beautiful time of the year. It’s because the war formed modern Rhode Island. And the military and defense industry are still major employers here.
But being formed by a war isn’t something to celebrate – war is much too terrible for such a thought. If you do have a moment to reflect, spend it praying that such a time is never repeated.