City Life

A PVD Honor 100 Years in the Making

Local artists are bringing a long-lost medal of citizen valor to life

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A concept lost in historic annals more than a century ago is now finally coming to fruition at Providence City Hall. In 1915, the city charter included an ordinance with detailed instructions for creating a municipal medal of bravery intended to recognize extraordinary acts of citizen valor. For whatever reasons, the medal was never actually created, and the ordinance became lost.

In fall 2016, the city council recognized a group of firefighters and first responders who resuscitated and saved a drowning baby. Afterwards, council president Luis Aponte said he wished there was a higher award for such acts. Research uncovered 1915 city charter guidelines for a municipal medal with very specific imagery instructions: “a female figure representing the municipality, crowning with a wreath of laurel a male figure representing heroism, protecting a woman and child,” with an ornate shield on the reverse side.

Council members decided the concept of the medal was perfect but that the design was outdated and should be updated to reflect modern times and values. Olneyville artist Kiki Sciullo was commissioned to create the new design, which incorporates elements like the RI “Hope” anchor and a bow and arrow taken from the Narragansett sachem tribe’s 1638 land deed signature, surrounded by a laurel wreath – a nod to the original description.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to design and produce these unique medals,” says Kiki. “This project combines two things I love: history and art.”

The completed medals will be made of bronze and 2.5 inches in diameter, presented in beautiful maple boxes. Both items are being locally produced by jeweler Heather Guidero and woodworkers Laura and Gordon Moss. The first municipal medal will be awarded this month to local firefighter Lt. Robert McCullough, who recently ran into a burning building to rescue a man while off-duty.