Submitted by Trinity Church
During the week of Veterans Day, from Sunday, November 6 to Sunday the 13th, the graves of Veterans who died between 1731 and 2022 are being honored with a variety of period flags in the churchyard at Trinity Church on the corner of Church and Spring Streets in Newport.
Trinity Church began as an Anglican Church in 1698 with people meeting in their homes. As the congregation grew, a small church was built and outgrown, then the present church was built in 1726.
The inscription on the earliest veteran’s grave — that of Robert Gardner, Esq. — tells us he was ”one of the first promoters of the Church in this place, he survived all his Brethren and had the happiness to see this Church completely finished, he was Naval Officer and Collect’r of this port for many years, also employed in the affairs of this Colony & Discharged his trust to Satisfaction. He died ye 1st of May 1731, the day of his Birth, aged 69 years.”
Thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteer stone conservationist Jimmy Lappin, this inscription can be read, along with the inscription on the neighboring stone of Capt. James Cahoone, both pictured here.
Gardner and 22 other veterans who served our country from the Colonial period, during the Revolution, and as recently as the Vietnam War are honored with flags of the respective periods displayed on their graves. 18th-century British flags identify the loyalists, while “Betsy Ross” flags adorn the patriots’ graves. French Royal Navy flags are seen on the three 1780 graves of French officers who came to fight for our freedom from British rule. Finally, the Stars & Stripes as we know it today has been placed on seven graves of Navy and Marine veterans — three of whom died between 1807-1845, and four others who died between 1992-2022 and whose remains rest in columbaria in the southwest portion of the churchyard.
Flags will be displayed for Veterans Day for one week until Sunday, November 13.