Written by Karen Gellender: email@example.com Friday, 01 June 2012 00:00The morning of Monday, May 28 featured brilliant sunshine, perfect weather for Syosset’s annual Memorial Day Parade. Members of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Syosset Fire Department, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, school marching bands and numerous civic organizations took to the newly repaved Jackson Avenue on the beautiful late spring day to honor the memories of those who fight to keep America free.
While many of the residents who cheered at the parade would later go on to enjoy festive barbecues and a relaxing day off from work, parade organizers and several speakers reminded the crowd not to forget the holiday’s true meaning.
“We’re all human; we forget to do things all the time, but this weekend, let’s not forget to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who are presently serving, those who have served—all our veterans in harm’s way across the world. We thank them,” said Town of Oyster Bay Councilman Chris Coschignano.
After the usual spirited parade march in downtown Syosset, surrounded by cheering residents, the crowd assembled before Memorial Park at the intersection of Jackson Avenue and Underhill Boulevard. There, World War II veteran Gus Scutari once again led the post-parade ceremony, as he has for several decades. After Father Tom Fusco from St. Edward The Confessor Church recited the opening prayer, Girl Scout Nicole Rampanelli performed The Star-Spangled Banner with professional aplomb. New York State Senator Carl Marcellino referred to Rampanelli’s performance when he gave his annual speech.
“That beautiful rendition of our national anthem ends with ‘the land of the free and home of the brave.’ To a certain extent, we can change that to ‘land of the free because of the brave,’” said Marcellino. “The men and women who gave their lives to keep this country free and open; a society where anyone can say anything; where an 18-year-old can run for office; where anyone can do whatever they please and the only limitations are what’s in here: what’s in your heart and what’s in your brain.”
Marcellino went on to thank all the veterans in attendance and reminded the audience to always remember that “freedom is not free: someone always pays a price.”
Newly elected Syosset school board trustee Josh Lafazan (the 18-year-old Marcellino was referring to) echoed Marcellino’s sentiments, and drew a connection between the veterans’ fight for freedom and Syosset residents’ fight, as he saw it, to achieve free and open government on the school board. “Let me make one thing clear: this is a new era in Syosset politics where the board comes to the people, where there’s open government and transparency, and where everyone’s voice is heard. And that’s because of the veterans here today,” said Lafazan to applause.
New Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6394 Commander Bill Santini also spoke to ensure that attendees would not easily forget the gravity of the day. “Today is the first Memorial Day since the end of the Iraq War; we are once again reminded of the full cost of war,” said Santini. “The Iraq War lasted over eight years, and in that time we lost nearly 4,500 of the finest men and women our nation has to offer.”
After reminding the community of these solemn truths, Santini continued by reminding the adults of their responsibilities as elders. “It is also our duty to teach our youth that nothing comes without a price, and that sacrifices are meaningless without remembrance,” said Santini.
After Santini had spoken, Warren Church of American Legion Post 175 made just one more request of the audience to remember the true reason for Memorial Day, even when the parades and barbecues are all over.
“I ask that all of you take a few seconds during your days, your weeks and your years to come, and quietly think of those men and women who give their lives for us—remembering that they too have moms, dads, wives and children, friends and neighbors. They are us, and we are them,” said Church.
After all the speakers had retired from the podium, Scutari read aloud the names of local veterans who died in the past year; their memories were honored with a four-gun salute.