Veterans Day Parade, Tribute returns to Port Washington

Veterans Day Parade, Tribute returns to Port Washington
Annual Gun Salute. (Photo courtesy of the American Legion Post 509)

The fourth-annual Veterans Day Parade and Tribute is returning to Port Washington Nov. 11, providing an opportunity for the community to show their support for the veterans living in their community and honor their service.

The Saturday morning parade will begin on Campus Drive, where veterans are asked to congregate starting at 9:15 a.m. The parade step-off begins at 9:45 a.m. and will travel north on Port Washington, west on Main Street and finish at the John Philip Sousa Memorial Band Shell for the tribute ceremony.

Fred Falconer, the assistant commander for the American Legion Post 509, said any veteran in Port Washington is invited to march in the parade hosted by American Legion Post 509 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1819, regardless of whether or not they are members of either group.

Community members are also encouraged to gather along the parade route and attend the ending ceremony.

Falconer said that on Memorial Day the Legion honors its deceased members but Veterans Day is for the members who are still with us. He said the day serves as a way to honor the members of their community.

“The first year we did it we had so much feedback from the guys in the Fire Department,” Falconer said, mentioning its large number of veterans. “They were so grateful for once that living veterans are to be recognized. It was nice. It means a lot to the guys.”

Falconer said the parade tradition began in 2020 after the annual Memorial Day Parade sponsored by the Legion was canceled just a few months prior due to the pandemic.

“They told us no way we could have it, no way at all,” Falconer said.

This pandemic restriction also included the Veterans Day march.

But as Veterans Day crept up, the legion opted for a pandemic-friendly solution: a car parade down Main Street.

NOT From there, Falconer said the Veterans Day ceremony took off, involving the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1819, the Fire Department and local law enforcement.

“Everybody said it was the best thing in the world for the town,” Falconer said. “It brought everybody together, and it did. It was really very meaningful to everybody, especially the veterans. The veterans really thought this was the best thing to ever happen.”

He said honoring Veterans Day is especially important for veterans who have not always been supported by their community for their service.

Falconer said that many of the Legion’s members are Vietnam War veterans who returned to their country after the war and were faced with public scrutiny. He said discharged Vietnam soldiers were told not to wear their uniforms in public.

“We had to hide everything,” Falconer said.

In the past, Falconer said many community members have observed the parade and held signs in support of their local veterans. He said this means the world to them, especially due to a history of lacking that kind of support.

“A lot of tears,” Falconer said, reflecting on the impact the support had on the veterans.

Falconer said some veterans will march in the parade while others will ride in vehicles as they travel down the streets of Port Washington. Marching with the veterans are the Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services and police departments with their respective vehicles.

The parade concludes at the Sousa Memorial Band Shell where the Veterans Day service will be held, including welcoming addresses, song, gun salute, a poem always delivered by John Chaulker and recognition of veterans in attendance.

At 11 a.m. sharp, the bell will be rung by Legion Treasurer Larry Tuck to signify the end of World War I through the armistice signed by the Allies and Germany, ending the fight on the Western Front at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. This will begin the ceremony.

American Legion’s Douglas Weston will give the opening welcome and Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1819 Robert Freeland will give the Veterans Day address.

Falconer will be reading the names of members that the groups have lost in the past year, with pipes and drums playing in their memory.

The ceremony will also feature a performance by the Nassau County Firefighters Pipe Band.

Falconer said what will make this ceremony a little more special than years past is the more obvious presence of a Vietnam monument. The monument, which Falconer said was previously hidden on the town dock, was moved to the band shell where it will be a focal point during the ceremony.

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