Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 04 June 2010 00:00
While the celebration of Memorial Day is always resonant, it takes on another dimension during wartime. “Think of the boys who are fighting at this moment- right at this moment,” said World War II veteran Gus Scutari, coordinator of the 2010 Memorial Day Parade in Syosset. While residents from myriad organizations marched cheerfully, and there were plenty of happy little children to be seen running around in red-white-and-blue clothing, as well as beach chairs, hot dogs and ice cream, there was a sense at this year’s parade that the solemnity of the occasion was not forgotten.
As is typical of Syosset, the Memorial Day Parade was an impressive affair that featured large portions of the community, including schools, Scouting organizations, sports teams, churches, synagogues, and many more. At the end of the parade was the Syosset Fire Department, which is instrumental in organizing the parade every year. Thanks to the abundant sunshine, even more people than usual were lined up along Jackson Avenue, friends and family in tow, to watch the proceedings.
The post-parade ceremony was kicked off by the Boy Scouts of Troop 170, who led the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance. Karli Regan then took to the stage to sing The Star-Spangled Banner. Regan lost her grandfather, Michael J. Grande, a commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, in a tragic train accident in 2009.
Father Tom Fusco of St. Edwards Church, who is now celebrating his 25th year as an ordained priest, led the opening prayer. Scutari then introduced the local politicians in attendance.
“It’s unfortunate that we emphasize this on one day of the year- we should emphasize this every day,” said Senator Carl Marcellino, who was dressed patriotically in a shirt adorned with American flags. Also in attendance was town councilman Chris Coschignano, who emphasized the importance of letting the military know that we appreciate their service.
Assemblyman Charles Lavine elaborated on the importance of recognizing the men and women of the armed forces “There is no more expensive commodity than freedom,” the assemblyman said.
Fortunately, the great attendance at the parade was an indication that Syosset residents understood the value of that commodity. “I can’t tell you how impressive this showing is today,” said Lavine to the hundreds of people crowded in front of the podium at Syosset Memorial Park at Jackson Avenue and Underhill Boulevard.
Commander of the Syosset chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Arthur Celuzza, informed attendees of what they could do to show their appreciation and respect, even after Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone. He suggested flying the flag on all patriotic holidays, volunteering, voting, getting involved in the community, helping aging veterans who are in need, keeping educated about what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, and above all, supporting the troops.
The singing of God Bless America was particularly memorable this year, with a huge number of participants waving flags to form a vista of red, white and blue. Scutari asked that everyone who didn’t have a flag of their own come up and take one from the podium, and the attendees listened. Anthony Bellafiore Jr. sang God Bless America in honor of his father Anthony Bellafiore, who sang the same song at the parade for many years before his death, and for his uncle John Christiano, who was a commander of the VFW. Parade-goers raised their flags once Bellafiore Jr. began to sing, and waved them higher when he reached the chorus of the song, creating a sea of flags in downtown Syosset.
The closing prayer was led by Deacon Tom Riley, whose son-in-law is currently serving in Iraq.
Three wreaths were placed in front of the monuments to the veterans at Syosset Memorial Park. Scutari asked that attendees please pay attention to the monuments when they happen to pass by on an everyday basis. “Read one or two names, it would be nice if you could do that for me,” he said. Then, after a pause, he added “It would be nice if you could do that for them.”
These are the names of the veterans who have passed on in the last year; we honor their memories.
Michael J. Grande
Chester F. Petrosky
Walter W. Gaylor
Fred W. Weitner
Joseph H. Reithert