Brooklynites will be proudly waving Old Glory, as neighborhoods around the borough turn out to mark Memorial Day.
The annual commemoration originated in the wake of the Civil War.
A half a century later, after World War I, the old Decoration Day morphed into the new Memorial Day, whose purpose was to pay tribute to all those who had given their lives as members of the American armed forces.
Today’s commemorations honor not only to those armed forces members who died in the line of duty, but all veterans who bravely committed themselves to the front lines.
In all, there will be four parades, three on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, and one the day before, Sunday, May 24.
The Sunday parade is the ninth annual Greenpoint Veterans Memorial Parade.
Marchers will step off at 9 a.m. on May 24 from the St. Stanislaus Memorial Post 1771 of the American Legion at 519 Leonard Street, and head up Manhattan Avenue, to St. Anthony’s Church, where a memorial service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Following the service, parade participants will head back to the American Legion post and hold a service outside.
Following the parade, said Jim Feith, one of the parade organizers, the American Legion will hold an open house all day, with “live entertainment, food, beverages and a show by the USO Girls.”
Approximately 300 people are expected to march in the parade, which is sponsored by the St. Stanislaus Memorial Post, the Knights of Columbus Lexington Council 293 and the Brooklyn Slovak−American Club, said Feith.
The first of the Greenpoint parades – whose goal is to honor all veterans, living and dead – took place just a few months prior to the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The grand marshal of this year’s parade is newsman Marvin Scott, of WPIX.
Also participating in the parade are a roster of marching units and color guards from the various branches of the military, as well as the NYPD RPM Pipes and Drums, the Royal Canadian Naval Units, JROTC members, students from St. Stanislaus Kostka Parochial School, the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree Color Corps, the Capodanno Division Sea Cadets and the Tiger Shark Unit Sea Cadets, Civil War re−enactors, and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians. There will also be vintage police cars, police motorcycles, antique cars, the U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Station HUMVEE and the World Trade Center Memorial Van.
The remainder of the parades will be held the following day, Memorial Day, Monday, May 25.
In Gerritsen Beach, local residents will gather together for their annual tribute, which is organized by Argonne Post 107, beginning at 10 a.m. on May 25 at Plumb 2nd Street and Whitney Avenue.
The route takes marchers across Gerritsen Avenue, to Burnett Street and Whitney Avenue, where they will stop at the VFW Memorial to lay numerous wreaths and play taps.
From there, marchers head along Gerritsen Avenue to St. James Church, where there is a World War II memorial in the garden and where the memorial ceremony will be repeated. Then, it’s on to the E.J. Matthews Knights of Columbus Hall, the final stop on the route.
Many local organizations take part. These include the Gerritsen Beach vollies, the Gerritsen Community Marching Band, the Knights of Columbus, the Little League, the Resurrection Softball League, the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts, the Gerritsen Beach Property Owners, the Cort Club, the St. James Sunday School and Gerritsen Beach Cares. In addition, members of the Jewish War Veterans participate in the parade, said George Broadhead, the county commander of the VFW.
“Memorial Day was founded to honor the men who served in the American Civil War,” remarked Broadhead,. “It’s been perpetuated ever since. Today, we honor all the men and women who have served their nation and given their lives for their nation.”
The 142nd annual Kings County Memorial Day Parade – the oldest continuously run parade in the country −− will take center stage in Bay Ridge, where it has been held for the past 18 years.
The event – which is sponsored by the United War Veterans of Kings County and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz −− kicks off at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 25, from Third Avenue and 87th Street. Marchers make their way along Third Avenue to Marine Avenue, where they head over to Fourth Avenue, marching up to John Paul Jones Park at 101st Street, where there will be a ceremony commemorating those who died in the line of duty. Among the highlights of the ceremony will be a wreath laying, flag raising, the playing of Taps and a 21−gun salute. The USO Liberty Bells will perform. In addition. the Xaverian High School band and the NYPD Auxiliary Band will provide music.
This year, the parade’s grand marshals are Iraq war veteran Nick Mosby and seven wounded service members sponsored by Hope for the Warriors. Auxiliary Chief Tony Christo, commander of the Brooklyn South auxiliary police, is deputy grand marshal.
Colonel Stephen Smith, commander of the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton, is the reviewing officer.
Among the groups participating in the parade are representatives of numerous veterans organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Catholic War Veterans, the Jewish War Veterans, the Korean War Veterans, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Gulf War and OEF⁄OIF Veterans, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the Brooklyn Key Chapter of American ex−Prisoners of War. Also marching will be members of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Sea Cadets, the Explorers, and numerous high school bands from the borough.
The Canarsie Memorial Day Parade, which also will be held on Monday, May 25, will be preceded by a pair of memorial services. First, at 9 a.m., a memorial service will be held at the Canarsie Memorial Circle at Canarsie Pier. This will be followed by a memorial service at Canarsie Cemetery, Remsen Avenue and Avenue K, at 10 a.m.. Wreathes will be laid at both services.
Line up for the parade begins at 11:00 a.m. at the American Legion Post 573, at Conklin Avenue and East 92nd Street, with the parade kicking off at 11:30 a.m. Marchers will head down Conklin Avenue toward Rockaway Parkway, turning on Rockaway Parkway and proceeding to Avenue M, then continuing along Avenue M to Remsen Avenue.
The marchers will walk along Remsen Avenue to Canarsie Cemetery, where they will observe a moment of silence, then continue along until they reach Conklin Avenue, returning to the American Legion hall, where there will be a memorial service, followed by a collation.
The purpose of the parade, stressed Carlton Richardson, the chairperson of the Canarsie Memorial Day Parade, is to honor, “Those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, while simultaneously teaching the next generation of Canarsiens about the value of national pride.”
Between 250 and 400 people are expected at the parade, whose marchers include veterans, members of the police auxiliaries, the Explorers, the Girl Scouts, local elected officials, members of area civic organizations, and representatives of the Canarsie History Museum and the Marine Corps recruiting station.