Port Washington: Unity and patriotism on Memorial Day

Port Washington: Unity and patriotism on Memorial Day
Attendees watching the the Memorial Day ceremony. On Monday morning, Port Washington residents gathered to celebrate those who had served in the armed forces. (Photo by Steven Keehner)

The Port Washington community heeded the call to remember those who had served at the Memorial Day Parade Monday morning.

The parade started at Campus Drive and proceeded to Main Street before ending at the Sousa Bandshell in Sunset Park, where a moving ceremony took place afterward.

The Port Washington Fire and Police departments, the Sands Point Police Department and others joined the American Legion Post 509 and the VFW Henderson-Marino Post 1819 in leading the charge.

“I guess Memorial Day is kind of necessary for everybody,” said Commander John Fiore. “But for us guys who have raised our right hands, every day is Memorial Day and we remember this very well—some of us a lot harder than others.”

Remarks from speakers and performances by the Paul D. Schreiber High School Viking Band kept the day’s recurring message of unification through patriotism clear.

“We do need and want you to be part of Americanism,” said one speaker. “It is defined as justice and law, independence and freedom, choice and democracy. When compared to the highlight of our Constitution — ‘We the People’ — this means all of us as well as those who have served and died in its defense.”

Larry Tuck and Fred Blumlein were recognized as the 2022 Grand Marshals of the American Legion Post 509 and the VFW Post 1819, respectively.

Tuck served from 1963 to 1965. He now gives back to his community by being a member of the Legion Post, the Masons and the Sousa Bandshell Committee.

Blumlein, who also served in the ‘60s, is a trustee and past president of the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society. He is also the quartermaster of the VFW Post 1819.

The ceremony featured a rendition of “Taps” and a reading of the renowned poem “In Flanders Fields.” There was also a commemoration of veterans based on the conflict they served in.

“I will do my best to make sure the message is clear and fair: We don’t push ourselves on anybody. We just want you to understand that it is us that made it happen,” said Fiore. “So please remember a veteran and today a special sound out to the guys that did not come home with us.”

Rev. Charles Vogeley, the chaplain of the Port Washington Fire Department, led the audience in prayer several times.

“We cry out for you to bless this free assembly of Americans gathered here at the Sousa Bandshell. Though our hearts ache over the recent acts of violence in this land, we come with awesome gratitude for this land of the free and home of the brave,” he said. “We are here and our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren have a future because of the brave men and women who gave their all making the greatest and ultimate sacrifice.”

Vogeley also read President Joe Biden’s Memorial Day proclamation. Since 1950, the president has issued a statement encouraging Americans to mark Memorial Day as a day of prayer for lasting peace.

“As we honor the memories of our fallen heroes, we are grateful for the future they made possible for us and rededicate ourselves to seeking enduring peace,” he read. “Our heroes gave their lives for our country, and they live forever in our hearts — forever proud, forever honorable and forever American.”

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