Members embers of the Port Washington American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars decorated the graves of more than 700 soldiers at the Nassau Knolls Sunday with the help of Boy Scouts. On Memorial Day, they gathered again to march through Port Washington to continue honoring the veterans, active military members and soldiers killed in wars.
“We who have served come together today to honor the proud men and women who bravely served before us and never made it home,” American Legion Post 509 Commander Douglas Weston said.
Thousands of residents lined up along Port Washington’s Main Street to watch the Memorial Day Parade on the sunny Monday morning.
The parade featured various local organizations, including the Nassau County Mounted Police, the Schreiber High School Band, the Port Washington Fire Department and various local veterans.
Grand Marshall Martin Kramer, a World War II Marine Corps veteran, led the parade as he rode in a convertible Mustang and waived his American flag.
The parade, which started on Campus Drive and continued down Port Washington Boulevard to Main Street, concluded at the Sousa Memorial Bandshell with a commemorative service.
Since the Bandshell’s opening in 1967, Port Washington community members have gathered there for nearly every Memorial Day.
A member of the American Legion sang “America the Beautiful” with the Schreiber High School band, as many people from the crowd joined in on the song.
American Legion 509 adjutant Paul Oleksiw thanked the community members for joining them in their honoring of veterans, saying it is their responsibility to remember their service and the sacrifices they made.
“Those veterans were like us,” Oleksiw said. “They were ordinary American citizens. But through their selfless defense of our country, they became extraordinary by the virtue of their service, but more importantly their sacrifice… Let us not allow their lives and their sacrifices to be in vain.”
Veterans of Foreign Wars Chaplain John Chalker recited the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields” by poet John McCrae.
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row, that mark our place; and in the sky the larks, still bravely singing, fly scarce heard amid the guns below,” Chalker recited.
The ceremony ended with a moment of silence for the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars members who died the past year.
Six shots, two from each of the three guns, were fired above Manhasset Bay in a gun salute for all of the fallen soldiers. The ceremony concluded with a performance of “Taps” by a trumpet player from the high school band as the American flag was raised from half-staff.