Written by Marilou Giammona: firstname.lastname@example.org Tuesday, 05 June 2012 14:22
Under the auspices of the William Bradford Turner Post 265 and the American Legion Auxiliary, Garden City hosted its annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony on Monday, May 28. The parade stepped off from Cherry Valley and 10th Street at 10 a.m. and wound its way to the Garden City War Memorial on 7th Street, where spectators gathered to remember and salute our nation’s fallen war heroes.
In his invocation, Dean Pickens of the Cathedral of the Incarnation, gave thanks “for the torch of liberty, which has been lit in this land” – liberty that has been hard won by the many men and women who made the supreme sacrifice for our nation. The speeches that ensued paid homage to not only those who did not return home but also their families.
“It’s never over,” said Edward T. Brown, post commander, William Bradford Turner Post 265. “Missions may end, but the legacies left and the pain of their absence endure … Most killed were under age of 25. In the eyes of their loved ones, they were forever young,” he continued. “Remembering the fallen once a year doesn’t seem quite enough ... the widows, the widowers, the fathers, the mothers, the brothers, sisters and children remember every, every single day. The empty seat at the dinner table, the smaller gatherings at Thanksgiving are constant reminders that they are gone.”
Brown called on “people like us who can enjoy time with our families because of their sacrifices” to take care of the families of fallen war heroes. One way to help, he suggested, is to provide financial assistance to help put their children through college, noting that the American Legion has established scholarships.
And while it is paramount to help families who have lost loved ones to war, speakers spoke of the importance of helping returning veterans.
Adelphi University president Dr. Robert A. Scott, a Navy veteran, said, “Today we honor not only those of our family, friends and neighbors who died in war but also those who served and now need our assistance at home. Some 12 percent of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed.” He added that Adelphi provides scholarships for returning veterans, and the university recently hosted a program to bring together veterans and employers.
“Today we must think of the living who served as well as those who could not come home. We must consider the scars seen and unseen and commit ourselves to help the living as an act of healing, starting a new era of common purpose,” Scott said.
To be sure, helping veterans carries a type of synergy. “[To] a lot of people, employing a returning soldier is charity – it isn’t,” said William Bradford Turner Post 265 former post commander Dr. Joseph P. Frey. “They have marvelous skills of discipline, of being able to follow orders and instructions. They have been highly trained. They make valuable employees,” he asserted.
Other speakers called on citizens to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day not only on the holiday itself but also throughout the year. “Today is about those who did not return back home. Today we have to remember those who gave everything they had, those who left home and never saw relatives or parents, never saw wives and maybe husbands again,” said New York State Assemblyman Tom McKevitt. “Let us remember not only today but every day the wonderful freedoms and wonderful country” we live in, thanks to those who made the supreme sacrifice, he said.
“Memorial Day should be much more than a three-day weekend that marks unofficially the beginning of summer,” said Joan Nedelka, president, American Legion Auxiliary. “This day, which was begun to honor the fallen heroes of the Civil War in the 19th century, has come to memorialize those brave men and women who gave their last full measure of devotion in all the wars. I see this day as a three-part symbol of that devotion. First, we should honor those dead who made the supreme sacrifice so that we and the people of the world might live in freedom and in peace. Then, it is only fitting that we honor the silent sufferers, the members of the Armed Forces who return home physically, emotionally or psychologically crippled. … The third part of this day’s emphasis is Armed Forces around the world, for these brave champions of freedom today will be the veterans of tomorrow.”
Garden City Mayor Donald T. Brudie spoke to the inherent solemnity of Memorial Day. “We can and should treat Memorial Day with the solemnity intended by observing the national moment of remembrance [at 3 p.m. local time], which was passed by Congress in the year 2000,” he said.
The village ceremony was held earlier in the day, but the crowd remained solemn throughout, especially during a roll call to Garden City’s fallen war heroes, assisted by Garden City High School drummers Stefan Huge and Kevin Calame, and a musical salute to the honored dead, as G.C.H.S. buglers Robert Pettrzak and Emilio Mertinez performed “Taps.”
Monsignor James D. Swiaber, Church of St. Joseph, offered a benediction to conclude the ceremony.