By Tom Momberg
American Legion Continental Post 1424 organized the annual Forest Hills-Rego Park Memorial Day Parade Saturday, bringing together diverse groups with participants of all ages.
The parade is meant, of course, to celebrate American freedoms and recognize those who fought to protect them. Linda Dougherty, president of the Forest Hills Kiwanis Club, which sponsored the parade, said encouraging large participation in Memorial Day events is an important part of living up to the meaning of the holiday.
“We must tell the story and to our young people in particular,” Dougherty said. “I am so happy, as an educator, to see so many of our young children engaged in the parade, whether they were marching or waving. They will not forget this. That’s why we must continue this tradition to honor those who have served.”
The 112th Precinct secured Metropolitan Avenue for an approximately 45-minute-long procession led by bagpipers of the New York Correction Department Pipe Band.
They were followed by members of the local Community Emergency Response Team, high school marching bands, the Richmond Hill Historical Society, the Forest Hills Civic Association, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from Troop 349, several local Girl Scout troops, the Guardian Angels and several other local groups.
The procession concluded with a veteran remembrance ceremony at Remsen Cemetery Park at the end of the parade route, a designated historic landmark.
Parade Grand Marshal Roland Meier, president of the West Side Tennis Club, and Legion leaders started the ceremony with a prayer.
Colors were presented by the police precinct and members of the Legion. Engaging the public during the parade and concluding ceremony were major event supporters like Borough President Melinda Katz, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), Councilman Eric Ulrich (D-Ozone Park), U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and several other leaders.
Taps was played by a trumpeter from Francis Lewis High School’s marching band, and ceremonial wreaths were placed upon the Remsen veteran memorial by members of the Forest Hills American Legion, led by former post president Virginia Windberry.
Schumer paid tribute to the area’s young men and women who are currently overseas serving the U.S. Armed Forces. He said that honoring them is just as important as recognizing those who served in past wars.
“We have a grand tradition that our young people and sometimes our older people volunteer to risk their lives to preserve our freedom,” Schumer said. “That is something we must never forget; The day this country forgets it is the day the sun sets on America. What we are doing here serves a noble purpose.”
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb