By Tom Momberg
The Whitestone Veterans Memorial Association put on its annual Memorial Day Ceremony and Parade with a flawless performance by all involved.
The whole community came together to pay tribute to those who have served the armed forces, and young people were out in number.
The 109th Precinct of the NYPD played a major part in securing the parade route and ceremonial grounds.
The Whitestone Veterans Memorial Day Parade returned with a big lineup of antique, classic and muscle cars. But the heart of the day’s events were at the Whitestone Veterans Memorial Field, where members of the New York Army National Guard, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from Troop 255 and Girl Scout Troop 4625 lined up with neighborhood residents to honor the community’s veterans.
Several of those who spoke emphasized the benefit of passing on Memorial Day traditions to children and teenagers as a way of continuing to recognize the selflessness of veterans.
It was those young people who conducted the ceremonial laying of wreaths in honor of fallen veterans during which the American flag was lowered to half staff.
Members of American Legion Post 787, which helped organize the day’s events alongside the Jewish War Veterans and Whitestone civic groups, then raised the American flag back to full staff as the New York Police Department Bagpipers played Amazing Grace.
James Dunn, a two-tour Vietnam War veteran, was selected as the parade’s grand marshal. Sentimental about his own experiences in artillery battery and with the Marines, Dunn said it is important to continue to honor anyone who has served the country, regardless of how long they have been in civilian life.
“For those of you veterans that are with us, welcome home and thank you for your service. For those of you who are not with us, today is for you,” Dunn said.
The choral group from PS 193 delivered the crowd from the somber spirit, returning to one of celebration. The children filled the field with music, singing the National Anthem and “America, the Beautiful.”
Some of those present during the ceremony were city Comptroller Scott Stringer, Borough President Melinda Katz, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside).
Stringer said participating in Memorial Day events is a simple way to help shape the attitude toward veterans and influence the city to provide them with more services.
“We have to have a special understanding and commitment for our veterans when they do come home … we, as a city, should be doing a much better job of making it easier to be a veteran in the city of New York,” Stringer said.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb