Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi Friday, 11 June 2010 00:00
Quentin Roosevelt Post #4 of the American Legion hosted their 91st annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 31 under the direction of parade coordinator, Post Commander Reginald Butt. The marchers assembled in the area where the American Legion building was originally built on South Street, near Adams Street and Burtis Avenue.
Marching was organized in divisions and included: The American Legion Quentin Roosevelt Post #4, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Oyster Bay Memorial Post #8033; Oyster Bay High School band; Oyster Bay Lions Club; the Masonic Lodge; the Doubleday Babcock Senior Center group; the Knights of Columbus; the Catholic Daughters; the Italian-American Citizens Club; and the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary Association. There were military vehicles and classic cars. An impressive group of Boy Scouts from Troop 299 and Troop 253 made a great display of their flags; the seventh- and eighth-Grade Band; the Cub Scouts; the Girl Scouts with their colorful banners; and local sports teams with their coaches. They were followed by the marching excellence of the Oyster Bay Fire Company No. 1; Atlantic Steamer Fire Company; and the East Norwich Volunteer Fire Company – with their trucks polished and gleaming.
They marched down South Street, to Ships Point Landing where the Rev. Jeffrey Prey said a prayer for those lost at sea as wreaths were put into the water. The parade then marched to the Derby-Hall Bandstand in Townsend Square with bands playing as they ended their walk and assembled for the ceremony.
American Legion Commander Reginald Butt, past commander of the VFW and past commander of the Nassau County American Legion, welcomed everyone to the annual memorial service in honor of our fallen servicemen and women.
Rabbi Marvin Demant gave the invocation saying, “Almighty God we are gathered here this morning for a special ceremony dedicated to all veterans, our brothers and sisters who paid the ultimate price while preserving this wonderful country.” He prayed, let us all know the joy of peace, and teach us to learn from our mistakes to not repeat them. He said what better final tribute can we give those who died but to let them know their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their loved ones were not made in vain.
Commander Butt announced that as of last summer, a change in protocol allows veterans out of uniform to use the hand salute as opposed to holding their hands across their chests as civilians do. Many veterans in the crowd did so.
As the Oyster Bay High School band played The Star Spangled Banner, Bob McGeever with the TOB Parks department slowly raised the American flag.
Commander Butt said, “The flag is supposed to remain at half staff until noon – but we are doing it eight minutes earlier, today.” He then introduced Commander William Ferris of the Quentin Roosevelt Post #4, who served with the U.S. Navy in WWII.
Commander Ferris welcomed everyone to the 2010 memorial ceremony. He asked, “What can you say to someone who made the ultimate sacrifice… At most we can say that we remember that freedom is not free. Let us not lose sight of what they did; and remember our fallen heroes.
Commander Butt read from a message from VFW National Commander Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., of Sussex, Wisconsin on the Meaning of Memorial Day.
Commander Tradewell’s message said, “It’s a sacred day to all war veterans: None need to be reminded of the reason that Memorial Day must be commemorated. But what about the general public, and more important, future generations? Do most non-veterans really recognize the importance of the day honoring their fellow Americans killed in war?
“Judging from what Memorial Day has become—simply another day off from work—the answer is a resounding no. Perhaps a reminder is due, then. And it is the duty of each and every veteran to relay the message.
“Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance. America’s collective consciousness demands that all citizens recall and be aware of the deaths of their fellow countrymen during wartime.
“Far too often, the nation as a whole takes for granted the freedoms all Americans enjoy. Those freedoms were paid for with the lives of others few of us actually knew. That’s why they are all collectively remembered on one special day.”
Commander Tradewell said it should be regarded as a civic obligation; a national debt to be repaid by all Americans. By honoring the nation’s war dead, we preserve their memory, and their service and sacrifice in the memories of future generations. He said the veterans came from all walks of life and regions of the country with one thing in common —love of and loyalty to country – that which brings Americans together.
He suggested ways of paying tribute, from a moment of personal silence; attending commemorative ceremonies; placing flags at gravesites, marching in parades, and wearing Buddy Poppies as examples. It is the thought that counts, he said, but added, it is public displays of patriotism that are essential if the notion of remembering war dead is to be instilled in youth.
Commander Tradewell said, as America’s older war veterans fast disappear from society’s landscape, there are fewer and fewer standard-bearers left to carry the torch of remembrance. That is true in Oyster Bay. Commander Butt said there were fewer and fewer veterans still with us. He read off the names of veterans who died since the last Memorial Day 2009 to Memorial day 2010. Those veterans are: John Griffin, John Caggaino, Arthur Nelson, Ferdinand Przywara, Henry Curran, Francis Manzella, and Michael Pilla.
Then came the presentation of wreaths placed at the VFW Memorial for all service people; and at the American Legion monument. “Such traditions will live on only if there is a vibrant movement to which that torch can be passed,” said Commander Treadwell. Poignantly he added, “Now, more than in recent years, the enduring relevance of Memorial Day should be clearly evident. With two wars under way, the public has no excuse not to remember.
“This much is owed to the more than 4,500 Americans who have died thus far in Afghanistan and Iraq,” concluded VFW Commander Tradewell.
The Rev. Kenneth Nelson of the Hood A.M.E. Zion Church sang America the Beautiful, and Commander Butt ended saying, “God bless you for attending our services and God bless the United States of America.”