Retired Navy Torpedoman Third Class Jim Morehead, a longtime Great Neck resident, expressed his gratitude for being chosen as grand marshal for the area’s 97th Memorial Day Parade Monday.
“I want to thank the Great Neck Memorial Day Committee for selecting me for this post,” Morehead said to the hundreds in attendance at the Village Green Monday morning. “I was very happy and this is been a great day.”
Morehead, who has served on the Great Neck Memorial Day Parade Committee for more than 25 years, first enlisted in the Navy in 1952. After his basic training, he reported to the USS Picking ship in Newport, R.I. In April 1953, his ship was dispatched to the North Korean Coast.
He lived in Great Neck for more than 50 years, with all of his children are a product of the Great Neck public school system.
Morehead said he joined forces with local scouts to change out the flags at All Saints Church prior to the parade and was impressed with the senior leadership and how much everyone took the task seriously. The retired veteran thanked the committee and his roughly 20 family members in the audience for all backing and for the entire public to come out and show their support for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting foon r freedom.
The parade began at Susquehanna Avenue and South Middle Neck Road at 9:30 Monday before ending up at the Village Green. Both sides of Middle Neck Road were flooded with red, white and blue attire, American flags and hundreds of residents cheering for the organizations that marched.
Groups included the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy n Kings Point, the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company, the Great Neck Alert Fire Department, the Great Neck Library, the Great Neck Chinese Association and more.
The ceremony also honored former residents Lt. Col. Martha Raye and First Sergeant John H. Starkins. Raye, an honorary Special Forces member, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Bill Clinton in 1963. With two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Raye was also a well-known actress and comedian.
Harkins, born in Great Neck in 1841, was a recipient of the Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor. He was assigned to the 34th New York light infantry, providing firing support to ground troops.
Former Great Neck Park District Commissioner Robert Lincoln reflected on the significance of Memorial Day to the crowd, stressing how a day of remembrance can bring so many groups of people together.
“It’s so nice and valuable when we see a community come together on a day like today,” Lincoln said. “When we have so much turmoil and division going on, if we come together, we can solve any problems. To those who have made the supreme sacrifice, may you continue to rest in peace. And God bless America.”