Forest Hills gears up for Memorial Day festivities
by Jennifer Khedaroo
May 15, 2018 | 1887 views | 0 0 comments | 68 68 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lt. Commander Michael Arcati and Carla Jantos MacMullen
Lt. Commander Michael Arcati and Carla Jantos MacMullen
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The Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade is a few weeks away, and organizers hosted a community party at the American Legion Continental Post 1424 last Thursday.

The parade will take place on Sunday, May 27, beginning at noon near the intersection of Metropolitan and Ascan avenues.

A ceremony will be held prior to the parade, starting at 11 a.m., in front of the American Legion, which is located at 107-15 Metropolitan Avenue.

The laying of wreaths at Remsen Cemetery will occur after the parade.

“It was about four or five years ago when we were thinking of doing away with the parade because these things cost money and our money dried up,” said Post 1424 president Tom Long. “But the Forest Hills Kiwanis stepped up, and we’ve been done nothing but get bigger and better with the parade,”

For the first time in the parade’s history, there will be a mass for deceased members of Post 1424 at Our Lady of Mercy, located at 70-01 Kessel Street, on Saturday, May 26.

Organizers also announced the 2018 grand marshals. Kew-Forest School’s Carla Jantos MacMullen and Lieutenant Commander Michael Arcati will lead this year’s parade.

Arcati, a Long Island native, graduated from Naval Justice School and was admitted into the New York Bar in 2002.

In 2004, he was selected to deploy to Iraq with the Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, where he served as a staff judge advocate for a 430-person joint command, which consisted of SEALs, Marine Corps Special Operations Command and support commands. His service in Iraq earned him the Bronze Star Medal.

In the following years, his work included a stint at the Naval Legal Service Office in Naples, Italy, where he worked as a criminal defense counsel. He then served as the staff judge advocate for three operational bases in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania area in 2007.

Although he received an honorable discharge from active duty in 2008, he was recalled to active duty in 2015. Between October 2015 and August 2016, Arcati deployed to Djibouti to serve as the deputy staff judge advocate for the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

In addition to the Bronze Star, Arcati has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals.

As a civilian, he worked as an assistant attorney general for the state before entering private practice as an attorney in the philanthropic sector.

Just before deploying to Iraq, Arcati met his wife, Delia. The two spent six months writing letters to one another while he was deployed in Iraq, and were married once they were reunited.

Following his tour in Africa, Arcati and his wife settled down in Forest Hills to raise their two sons.

Arcati recalled his first experience with Post 1424. He showed up to last year’s Memorial Day Parade in his uniform, unsure what to do. He found Long and asked if he could march in the parade. Long told him, “sure, get in front.”

“After that first ceremony, my first experience at a Memorial Day Parade, and remembering the veterans and those who have fallen, it brought tears to my eyes,” Arcati said. “Now Forest Hills is my home after many years of service, it’s very welcoming.

“I knew I had to be a part of this post and bring the next generation of veterans to join and carry the torch forward,” Arcati added.

MacMullen, a Pittsburgh native, has lived in Forest Hills since July 2017 when she became the ninth and only female head of school of The Kew-Forest School. Following a 30-year career at the Hopkins School in Connecticut, MacMullen was ready for an opportunity to lead a school.

She was drawn to Kew-Forest’s long history, intimate community and dedication.

“Schools like Kew-Forest are places where children are deeply known and individually nurtured to personally and academically grow and develop,” she said.

MacMullen said one of the benefits of a pre-K through 12th grade school is that, in partnership with families, children are brought along in an academic tradition and learning culture that starts during their earliest formative years.

The focus ntentionally adjusts during subsequent developmental stages, and culminates with a sturdy set of academic, interpersonal, and leadership skills for life beyond Kew-Forest.

“It was a pleasant surprise to be selected as a co-grand marshal of the 2018 Memorial Day Parade,” MacMullen said. “I am honored to be chosen and look forward to participating in the parade in the spirit of this day of remembrance.

“Memorial Day is a chance to reflect on the men and women who lost their lives while serving our country in the armed forces,” she added.

MacMullen’s father served in the army and was stationed in Vicksburg, Virginia, in addition to Yuma, Arizona, and Thule, Greenland.

All four of her mother’s brothers served in various branches of the armed forces, and several of her cousins on both sides of the family served, including two who attended the Naval and Air Force Academies.

The Kew-Forest School also has recent alumni and alumnae who have served in the armed forces in the Middle East.

Kew-Forest has recognized graduates who served in WWII, and the Kew-Forest archives show that during WWII the school ran drives for supplies for soldiers, promoted war bond sales, and hosted a collection for orphans in Europe.

MacMullen noted that the timing of this particular grand marshal opportunity is also significant for The Kew-Forest School, which is celebrating its centennial in September.

“While the Continental Post 1424 was established more recently, the American Legion was founded in 1919 and Kew-Forest was founded in 1918,” she said, adding that Kew-Forest is the oldest independent school in Queens. “I am impressed by institutions that were founded so long ago, stay close to their founding mission, and continue to serve the community.”

Since joining Kew-Forest, MacMullen and school officials have worked on increasing the school’s visibility in the community, participating in Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce events in addition to preparing for the upcoming Centennial celebration.

Her goals for the school includes continuing to provide caring, vigorous and relevant academic and extracurricular programs for children, as well as making a Kew-Forest education accessible through a robust tuition assistance program.

The school is also working to develop a program to prepare young people for work in increasingly global, collaborative and creative work environments.

“I am delighted to be part of the Forest Hills community and excited to celebrate as our school enters its centennial year,” MacMullen said. “If you see me at the parade, please come up and say hello. I would love to meet you.”
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