In a ceremony prior to the parade, grand marshals, members of the American Legion Continental Post 1424, and elected officials spoke about the importance of the holiday.
Tom Long, commanding officer of Post 1424, who will step down in July after 10 years in the position, thanked his wife, the members of the post and elected officials for their support in continuing the tradition.
Grand marshal Lieutenant Colonel Eileen Gillespie, who serves as a senior administrative director at LIJ Forest Hills, paid tribute to fallen heroes that she knew personally through her time in Iraq, including Specialist Nichole Frye and Major Dwayne Kelley.
“So while we stand here today, alive and well and free, let’s celebrate the lives, the honor, the courage and the selfless serviceof our fallen,” Gillespie said. “I pray for peace this Memorial Day and for all the days to follow.”
Grand marshal Susan Browning shared the story of a young Marine she met during a recent Northwell Health event for veterans. The Marine, who moved to the United States at 18 and enlisted at 19, attended the event in honor of those who lost their lives.
Browning, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz and 112th Precinct commanding officer Jonathan Cermeli shared memories of family members who either served during war or experienced life under wartime.
“They didn’t go into war because they loved fighting, they were called to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” Cermeli said. “They were ordinary people who responded in extraordinary ways in extraordinary times.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng announced bipartisan work has been done to increase the budget for services for military members and their families by $5 million.
“That’s important because it shows where our priorities are as a country, especially as we face more unique challenges for our veterans,” Meng said.
For the first time in many years, active servicemen from the USS Virginia were also in attendance.
Borough President Melinda Katz brought her two children to the parade to honor those in service and those who lost their lives.
“It’s so important that my children on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day and all through the year thank those men and women who fought for this country, but especially those who died for this country,” she said.