Boro pols to march in Forest Hills memorial parade

By Brendan Browne

Several Queens politicians will march alongside war veterans and U.S. servicemen in the Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade Sunday.

The parade, which will kick off at noon at the American Legion at 107-15 Metropolitan Ave., promises to be one of the largest in recent years in light of the country’s conflicts of the last nine months.

The parade is “a matter of great pride for the community. The front line was drawn across Lower Manhattan and we want to recognize and honor those that have given their lives for our country,” said the parade’s director, Bob Silver.

It’s important “to know exactly what it means to live in a free country,” he said.

An official from the American Legion, which is organizing the parade, said since Mayor Michael Bloomberg never responded to an offer to serve as grand marshal, former Marine and Vietnam veteran Robert O’Malley, who grew up in Forest Hills, probably would do the honors.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, state Sens. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), state Assemblyman Michael Cohen (D-Forest Hills), and City Council members Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills) and Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) were expected to join the festivities.

“It does have special significance. There’s been a resurgence in patriotism that I have not seen and do not recall,” said Maltese, who expects a large turnout Sunday. He added that the magnitude of the Sept. 11 attacks was even greater than Pearl Harbor, saying “this was much more immediate and much closer.”

The mother of Thomas Noonan, a Woodside man who won the Gold Star after he was killed in Vietnam, will join in the parade, the American legion said.

The American Legion also will send a few buses to downtown Manhattan to pick up any sailors from the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard on boats docking there who are interested in marching. The Marine Corps’ band from the Quantico military base in Virginia and musicians from Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows will provide the music. Other groups, such as the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, will be present, too.

At noon paraders will head down Metropolitan Avenue to Trotting Course Lane, where they will hold a memorial service at Remsen Memorial Cemetery.

Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.