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Veterans Remembered With Pride at 2011 Syosset Memorial Day Parade

While the rainy morning of Monday, May 30 made it look as though it might be a gloomy time for a parade, fortunately sunshine prevailed; by the time the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, marching bands, civic organizations and fire trucks took to the pavement, it was a beautiful late spring day.

However, despite the festive atmosphere, as many Syosset residents kicked back in lawn chairs with cold drinks and chatted about upcoming summer plans, parade organizers made sure that the meaning of the day was not lost on the crowd.

“One thing I want you to remember today, although we’re all laughing and enjoying ourselves, it’s really a memorial; don’t forget,” said Gus Scutari, the World War II veteran who has been coordinating the parade for the past several decades.

Other speakers mirrored Scutari’s sentiments, saying that while the crowd should enjoy the beautiful day- a practice certainly helped along by American Legion Posts 175’s annual post-parade offerings of free hot dogs, soda, beer and ice cream- it was important to keep in mind the sacrifices necessary in order for such a pleasant day to be possible.

“Sometimes I think we don’t realize there’s a war going on because it’s so comfortable over here, but some of the boys are over there and losing their lives at this very minute,” said Scutari.

In addition to reminding residents to remember the contribution of veterans of past wars, such as the WWII and Vietnam War veterans who took to the podium during the ceremony, the speakers also urged everyone to keep the veterans of today’s wars in their thoughts as well. New York State Senator Carl Marcellino commented on the difficulty for veterans today to adapt from wartime to peacetime, and encouraged everyone to respect fighting men and women by supporting them when they return from combat as well.

“When you see a returning veteran, give them some help- be a good friend, be a good neighbor, as Syosset always does,” said Marcellino.

“We had some losses this year, none greater than our own Arnold Bocksel, who we lost this year, but please remember all our troops serving,” stated Town Councilman Chris Coschignano.

After the parade, which featured the Syosset High School Marching Band, Syosset Chamber of Commerce, Residents for a More Beautiful Syosset, the Korean-American Friends of Syosset, and Boy Scout Troop 170, just to name a few of the participating groups, marching proudly down Jackson Avenue, the post-parade ceremony took place at Memorial Garden at the intersection of Jackson and Underhill Boulevard.

Father Tom Fusco of St. Edwards Church, who celebrated his 25th year as an ordained priest last year, led the opening prayer. As she had at the 2010 ceremony, Karli Regan- daughter of the late Michael J. Grande, a commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6394- sang The Star Spangled Banner. After brief speeches from the elected officials present, as well as Edward Aulman, commander of American Legion Post 175 and Arthur Celuzza, Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6394, Scutari read the names of the veterans who died in the past year; their memories were honored with a four-gun salute.

“As our society drifts further away from the reality of the war, it is necessary to remind the public of what the tiny minority does for the vast majority,” said Celuzza. “That is what Memorial Day is all about.”

Pastor Marc Herbst of Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, with the aid of Rabbi Jay Weinstein, offered the closing prayer.