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R.I. commemorates 9/11 attacks

Organizations throughout Rhode Island commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks over the weekend, focusing less on the past and more on moving forward and building a safer world.

Sail Newport held its 10th annual regatta, Sail for Pride, Sunday to benefit the charities Wounded Warrior Project and Rhode Island Red Cross Service to Armed Forces Fund, according to the Sail Newport website. The race has become "a pretty significant staple," said race manager Anderson Reggio. "It's something a lot of people and a lot of boats plan for every year." While the amount of money raised by the race can "vary dramatically from year to year" — past funds have varied from $20,000 to $100,000 — Reggio estimated the race would raise $60,000 to $80,000.

Block Island held a benefit concert to support its Volunteer Fire Rescue as a part of the town's 350th anniversary celebrations. The Volunteer Fire Rescue provides a vital service to an island unable to rely on neighboring towns for support in an emergency, said Henry Peterson, event organizer and resident of the island. "We're all one. We're out here on the island."

The concert featured Beantown Swing Orchestra, an 18-piece big band. This benefit concert had not been held before, but "we're already talking about holding something on the Sept. 11 weekend from now on," Peterson said.

Some events were more political in nature. The organization We Are Change held a Truth Rally in downtown Providence Friday in an attempt to "spread the truth about 9/11," said Dan Bidondi, chapter owner for Blackstone Valley, a town that straddles Rhode Island and Massachussetts. The group believes that 9/11 was "a staged terror attack to get approval to go to war," according to documents distributed at its rally.

"We support the military, we support the American people," Bidondi said.

"We basically tell you the truth the way it's supposed to be told," he added. He said he hopes the rally will "get indictments and investigations going."

The Center for Dynamic Learning kicked off Expressions of Courage and Conflict, a year-long project, Sunday afternoon at the Rochambeau branch of the Providence Community Library. This was the first of four events in which community members will gather with children and military personnel to create storytelling squares that will be sewn together to form a tapestry.

On the squares, "people left messages, people put images," said Elizabeth Cunha, director of the center. "One young man with a friend in the military wrote how much he misses him."

Throughout the year, the tapestry will continue to grow as community members add their own storytelling squares at future library gatherings. The next event will be held in November at the Fox Point branch.

Serve Rhode Island gathered about 200 volunteers Saturday for a beautification project at Gilbert Stuart Middle School on the south side of Providence. The volunteers painted hallways and classrooms and cleaned the area outside of the building, clearing glass, debris, garbage and a metal fence.

"This project was done specifically as a way of promoting volunteerism in Rhode Island while promoting positive energy in commemoration of 9/11, which was a very negative experience," said Brian Gay, volunteer coordinator of Americorps Volunteers in Service to America.


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