The annual event was coordinated by American Legion Continental Post 1424 and the Forest Hills Kiwanis Club, and could not have been possible without the financial support of many local businesses.
This year’s grand marshals were Major Michael Dunne and myself. I can say that I am truly inspired and grateful to have been presented with the honor. I am also proud to be an American and march in the name of veterans who have dedicated their lives to defend our country, exhibiting our American spirit at its finest.
Major Dunne served in Afghanistan, the New York Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve. Meanwhile, I am a fifth-generation Forest Hills resident who has not served our country, but has long embraced good deeds by volunteering my services to enhance our communities as an author, historian, preservationist, and conservationist.
The spirit of Memorial Day exists year-round in the landmarks of Forest Hills and Rego Park that bridge generations. They include Remsen Cemetery, the statue of WWI Captain Gerald MacDonald, Lost Battalion Hall, and Adolph Weinman’s World War I Soldiers & Sailors Memorial at Flagpole Green in Forest Hills Gardens.
Forest Hills resident Fadia Mohama’s son marched for the second consecutive year with his school, PS 101.
“I love that at a young age they are learning why we celebrate Memorial Day, the importance of this special tradition, and remembering our soldiers who fought so we can live in a free society,” she said.
Carla Marie Rupp traveled from Tribeca for the event.
“When I heard about this parade, I immediately wanted to attend and honor our veterans,” she said. “My father Carl served in the Merchant Marines and my uncle Kenneth served in the military. My friend was so emotional since his father served in World War II, and he misses him very much.”
“On Memorial Day, it’s not about going out to a barbecue, but remembering those who served our country,” said Forest Hills resident Patricia Perle Malley, who wore patches on her jacket in memory of her father Richard Perle, a bombardier and captain during WWII. “He was taken prisoner of war by the Germans, but survived. I have a shadow box of his medals, which include a purple heart and an air medal.”
Her late husband William Malley also served the Army.
“He was a sergeant who fueled helicopters for Vietnam and was stationed in Korea,” she said.
The Forest Hills Asian Association invited Fang Wong, a former National Commander of the American Legion, and the Chinese Qipao Society of NY to march with them this year.
“Many people take their freedoms for granted and do not appreciate all the sacrifices made by those who came before them,” said association president Edwin Wong. “It's great to walk with our members, their families, various marching bands, drum corps, ROTC groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and all the community groups.” Helen Day is vice president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society, longtime parade participants.
“We have a collection of photos in our archives of those men who died in WWI from the area and are listed on the Buddy Monument in Richmond Hill,” she said while dressed in a Civil War-era costume. “We love to honor our heritage with a patriotic flair.”
M.K. Moore, a veteran of the Air Force, refers to Memorial Day as a holiday of poignant memories of his fellow vets who did not return alive.
“Citizens around the world should always remember that the service Members who have given their lives in service not just for the USA, but for the world,” he said. “We should all strive to instill a sense of patriotism in our youth. Without a sense of pride in our nation, they will not have the desire to improve it.”
“If a demolition crew showed up in some of our squares that have been dedicated, how many would even know what was being removed?” asked Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, in his speech. “How bereft we are in transferring that memory from one generation to another.”