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Preserving the Past

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The 40-foot tall Soldiers and Sailors Monument towers over Kennedy Plaza. Built in 1871, the iconic downtown display commemorates the 1,721 Rhode Islanders who lost their lives during the Civil War. As the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy (DPPC) ramps up it’s efforts to restore the monument, they’ve released a short documentary from North Kingstown-based filmmaker Jamie McGuire to tell the story of the men behind the statue.

Public Memory/Public Spaces features interviews with Mayor Elorza, Senator Reed, descendants of soldiers commemorated on the plaques of the statue, and DPPC Executive Director Cliff Wood, intercut with drone footage of the monument and archival photos of Rhode Island’s soldiers in the Civil War. It all has a very Ken Burns vibe, which comes full circle when the preeminent Civil War documentarian makes an impassioned plea at the end of the film for preserving the memory of those soldiers’ sacrifice.

The film is available to view on the DPPC’s website, along with an outline for the two phase, $300,000 restoration project, which includes repairing and replacing damaged and missing elements, as well as infrastructure improvements.

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