The REWHC team hosted its third successful Earth Day family day this past Saturday and much was accomplished. Thanks to all of you for your hard work and efforts to make the day a great success. You should all be proud. All who attended enjoyed a beautiful sunny spring day with close to perfect weather conditions.
The day began with a very special event - the dedication of a memorial tree grove to honor the four Raytheon employees lost on September 11th: Peter Gay, Stanley Hall, David Kovalcin and Kenneth Waldie. Dozens of employees gathered around the spot, which comprises a beautiful garden filled with shrubs and perennial plants in patriotic hues. Four trees - two redbuds and two white dogwoods - were planted in memory of those lost. The centerpiece of the grove is a granite boulder containing a plaque, which bears the names and the likeness of the four men.
Dan Smith, Vice President and General Manager of N&MIS, who welcomed the group and said a few words, opened the ceremony. He then turned the podium over to Dan Ryan, Director of Operations, who shared his memories of Peter Gay, with whom he worked for several years. The stone and plaque was then unveiled by Linda Gay and her daughter Larissa, after which Mrs. Gay shared a few thoughts about her husband with the group. A moment of silence was observed, while Peter Ukleja played a subdued rendition of "Amazing Grace" on a 17th century cornetto, an early Italian trumpet. Mrs. Gay and her daughter were then presented with a momento of the day, a silhouette of the memorial grove reproduced in glass. The four trees were planted by The Girls Scouts of the USA, Rhode Island Council, Troop #714 and the Boy Scouts of America, Narragansett Council, Troop #27. The ceremony was extremely moving, and gave pause to all that attended.
Following the dedication, the Earth Day activities commenced. Bird boxes were built and repaired by Ed Rizy, Norman Lantz and the Boy Scouts. Dana and Junio Filippini of Backyard Habitats planted a hummingbird garden in front of the Constitution Building. The Girl Scouts assisted Harry Mutter in planting a Washington Elm donated by Matt Largess of Largess Forestry. Matt also donated another Metasequoia tree this year, which was planted in front of the Constitution Building by Ed Coombs. Winnie Andrew was busy heading up the planting of the wildflower meadow as well as coordinating the book swap. Families enjoyed walks on the trails led by Jay Manning of Norman Bird Sanctuary and by Harry Mutter, REWHC trails steward. A walk to the Portsmouth Town Poor Farm site was led by John Ort and Bill Saslow, who also conducted demonstrations of the history of the site in the conference center. Ted Kaye from Mystic Seaport also participated in the history demonstrations. Heather McKenna was in the conference center as well, presenting a slide show on the nesting box monitoring process.
Joe Lawrence and Tom Murphy did their usual excellent job of recording the event in pictures for all to enjoy for years to come. The Newport Daily News also wrote a nice piece about our day, which appeared on the front page of the Monday, 22 April edition.
Many children participated in the Eco-Treasure Hunt held by Diana Ukleja and Tom Jones as well as in a raffle. Patricia Morrissette presented Mrs. Gay with a silk flower arrangement she had made. Refreshments provided by Eurest were enjoyed by all. Children went home with herb gardens they had made and seeds they had planted with the help of Beth Tracy, and flowerpots they had painted, assisted by Pat Morrissette. The kids also took home coloring books drawn by Mitchell and Casey Chodkowski as well as seedlings of oak, spruce, maple and pine provided by Ed Coombs. Music was provided by Dana and Peter Ukleja of the Fall River Fipple Fluters during the first part of the day. Janice Vachon then took over the music program, playing the piano accompanied by Tom Wynsen on violin. Steve Tamburro also took a turn at the piano for a time.
Thanks again to all for a successful day and for raising awareness about responsible stewardship of our Earth's natural resources. You are to be commended for making a difference and for cherishing what is truly important in our world.