Manhasset honors vets at Memorial Day parade

Manhasset honors vets at Memorial Day parade
Manhasset community shows support for veterans with its Memorial Day parade. (Photo by Sarah Ng)

Crowds waving flags lined the streets in Manhasset Monday to greet marchers in the Memorial Day Parade as it moved along Plandome Road. The onlookers ranged in age from toddlers to a World War II veteran.

Many local organizations took part in the parade, including the Manhasset American Legion Post 304, which helped to organize the function, followed by bagpipe players. The Manhasset American Legion Auxiliary Unit 304 and the Great Neck Choral Society also marched. Young children walked the parade route, including Boy Scouts of America Troop 71 and the Manhasset Association of Girl Scouts, who could be seen saluting and waving flags.

A float dedicated to the 82 fallen veterans of Manhasset was the most notable of the visuals at the parade. A set of 82 crosses with the names on the Manhasset Gold Star Honor Roll moved through the streets. A special distinction was written on the side for USMC Sergeant First Class Kevin Kennedy Jr., who died from COVID-19 complications after recovering from a Vietnam War injury.

The parade faced its own set of obstacles due to the pandemic. Vice Commander James T. Brooks of Manhasset American Legion Post 304 said that “it didn’t stop us, it slowed us down” with changes to the ceremony location to make the event possible. Brooks also said  the occasion “is really to remember those who died in the wars. It’s all right to recognize veterans, but Memorial Day is to serve the members of those who passed.”

President Patricia O’Brien of the Manhasset American Legion Auxiliary Unit 304 said: “This is not a barbecue day. This is a day when we really set aside time, for instance the parade, to remember those who served and lost their lives.”

The parade route ended at the Mary Jane Davies Green Park, where speeches were delivered at a podium after an American flag was raised to the top of the post. Commander Peter J. Killian of the Manhasset American Legion Post 304 said in his speech that “we are also reminded on this day that brave men and women have always stepped forward to take the oath of allegiance” and “that we must continue to honor the spirit of these heroes” by discussing with children the lives of fallen veterans who dedicated their lives to serving the country.

A wreath was placed by the Manhasset Gold Star Memorial after Killian’s remarks. Renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” paid respects to those who had served.

The day also recognized those in the community who are striving to make a difference like the veterans who were honored. The organizations awarded various scholarships and awards to hardworking students in the area who received plaques at the podium.

The Manhasset American Legion Auxiliary Unit 304 also introduced this year’s Poppy Queen, Madison Governale, a role that represents the dedication of the American Legion groups to memorialize veterans.

When asked about the title, Governale said: “Poppy Queen is an honor to me… I am very, very excited and to me it represents my support in my community and my support for the veterans.”


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