On a sunny Memorial Day that felt like the true brink of summer, Bear waited patiently for Manhasset’s parade to reach Town Hall, adorned for the occasion with an American flag scarf.
Bear, who is, in fact, a dog, was one of many Manhasset residents who gathered along Plandome Road Monday morning for the American Legion Post 304’s annual Memorial Day parade honoring Americans who have died in service.
This year is the centennial anniversary of the American Legion and the 90th anniversary of Manhasset’s post, which currently has about 100 members, said Commander Peter Killian at a ceremony in the Manhasset High School auditorium following the parade.
Marchers included bands, floats, community organizations and sports teams.
Members of Manhasset’s American Legion post were greeted with applause as they led the parade backed by bagpipes and snare drums, as were floats honoring local deceased members of the armed services.
It was the second parade of the day for Bill Skehan, who marched with the Plandome Fire Department two hours after Plandome’s ceremony. The fire police volunteer served in the Army in 1963 and 1964.
“Even this many years later you reflect on all the people that have given their lives to keep our country being what it is,” Skehan said. “It’s a brotherhood, too. The military is a brotherhood. The Fire Department is a brotherhood.”
Michael Grillo, who said he has done 18th century re-enactments for about 25 years, participated in the parade for the first time, decked out as George Washington.
His 12-year-old son of the same name stood by his side on the float in his own three-cornered hat.
Members of American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary gathered on stage in the high school auditorium after marching to present awards to local students. Each selected four students to attend Boys State and Girls State, weeklong summer programs in upstate New York that allow young people to simulate participation in a governmental body.
The American Legion also presented two teens with its “school award” for graduating seniors. The recipients were Erasmo Troia of Manhasset High School and Anthony Alaimo of Saint Mary’s High School.
The auxiliary named Kaitlyn Clarke its “Poppy Queen,” presented Kristin D’Angelo and Rachel Jang with “Americanism” awards and presented Abigail Kolyer with its “good deed” award.
Troia, who is involved with five honor societies, two sports teams and the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department, said he hopes to one day serve in the military.
“A lot of people forget what today means,” he said. “It’s called Memorial Day for a reason. We remember those who fought and served.”
In a speech, Killian, the post commander, said that June 6 is the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy during World War II.
“Labels we hurl today like Democrat, Republican, red state and blue state matter little when facing lines of machine guns charging up a beach,” Killian said. “Politics are irrelevant to a family that hears the words ‘We regret to inform you.’”