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Memorial Day Parade Is All Sunshine

The Manhasset American Legion Post 304 previously announced the theme of the parade this year “You did your job-you saved our way, Our life and freedom you preserved, We’ve thanked you less than you deserve…”

Dr. Samuel R. Bierstock. The day dawned clear with sparkling sunshine-cool and comfortable. The Memorial Day weekend began on early Saturday morning with the flagging of veteran’s graves at the Pinelawn National Cemetery. Legionnaires were joined by the Post-sponsored Boy Scouts of America Troop 97 and Cub Scout Pack 101 with their parents. Together, they placed small American flags in front of each veteran’s grave in their assigned section of the cemetery. On Sunday morning, Legionnaires and the Women’s Auxiliary attended ecumenical services at the Church of Our Saviour Lutheran Church conducted by the Reverend Ray Ormand.

The Memorial Day Parade began sharply at 10 a.m., led by the Nassau County Police Department Motorcycle Escort Unit, the American Legion Commander and his staff and the U.S. Army 319th Statue of Liberty Band directed by CWO Stephen Joseph. The Manhasset Post Legionnaires and the Auxiliary were followed by antique vehicles which held the Poppy Queen and those unable to march.

The parade continued with columns of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, other children’s groups, community groups and community service groups. The finale of the parade always is the two local fire departments marching smartly in their red and blue uniforms followed by the long line of glistening, red and often amazing fully staffed “fire” emergency vehicles. Wreathes were placed at the WWI Memorial at the Manhasset Railroad Station and at the Gold Star Veterans Memorial at the Mary Jane Davis Green Park. The six parade divisions concluded their march by assembling in formation at Memorial Field where the Memorial services were held.

At Memorial Field, Post Commander Anthony W. Buzzitta opened the ceremonies by introducing Mrs. Catherine Lau accompanied by the Manhasset School Band under the direction of Randy Knudsen, who led the crowd to sing the National Anthem. The invocation was given by the Reverend Allan Sikorski, associate pastor of the Church of Saint Mary. The Poppy Queen, Miss Caroline Connolly of Manhasset High School, was introduced and the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Brownies presented the floral tributes to the honored dead. Post Chaplain James R. Russell read the roll call of deceased veterans, accompanied by drummer Raffi Froundjian of Manhasset High School. Seventeen veterans from the community have passed away in the last year. Mr. Thomas Lavin and Mr. Andrew Wong of the Manhasset High School Band and SFC Gregory Hall and SFC Ryan Sealy, both of the 319th Statue of Liberty Band, played Taps.

Vice Commander Matthew Falcone, youth chairman read the citations for the school awards while Commander Anthony W. Buzzitta made the presentation to Mr. Michael Anderson of Manhasset High School and Mr. Michael Lipani of St. Mary’s College Preparatory High School. The Boy’s State Awards were also presented to: Mr. Matthew Joe and Mr. Thomas Lavin, Manhasset High School; and Mr. Amit Vora and Mr. Michael Wysota, both of Manhasset BSA Troop 97.
American Legion Auxiliary President Doris Bezkor presented the School Awards to Miss Catherine Wang of Manhasset High School and Miss Caroline Doyle of Saint Mary’s College Preparatory High School. She also presented the Girl’s State Award to Poppy Queen Miss Caroline Connolly of Manhasset High School.

Commander Buzzitta reminded everyone that although the Post is completing it’s 80th Anniversary, the American Legion was founded in 1919 “to honor and serve the needs of veterans…” He mentioned the visit to Pinelawn National Cemetery on Saturday by the Legionnaires, Boy Scouts, troop leaders, and families with their mission “to dress the graves of the fallen heroes of our wars.” Over 1,000 headstones were placed with American flags “to commemorate the sacrifices that were made to keep our country free.” The Commander remembered one of our departed comrades, Admiral Paul J. Early, one of the pioneers in nuclear powered submarines and who was the Chief Engineer of the atomic powered U. S. S. Nautilus in its historic voyage beneath the North Pole-the first in history across the top of the world. Admiral Early, he continued, “served his country, his church and the Manhasset community in an exemplary manner.“ Commander Buzzitta also recognized WW II veteran Mr. Joseph Koncick, honoring him for his 70 years of service to the community as a volunteer fireman. Commander Buzzitta remembered the young men and women who are presently serving in the Middle East from our community. “We pray for their safe return….” And finally, he acknowledged and extended a “sincere thank you” to the 319th Statue of Liberty Band under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer Stephen Joseph. He remarked that this was the 9th year that the “band has marched in our parade.“

The ceremonies were concluded with the Benediction given by Associate Pastor Laurie Burgess of the Congregational Church of Manhasset and the singing of God Bless America, led by Mrs. Catherine Lau.