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Just before 10 a.m. on Memorial Day, hundreds of Laurelton children and teens were ready to go.
They were chatting with friends, clapping their hands and waving small American flags. Young drummers and dancers were already in formation. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts waited anxiously behind their troop's banner. Parents smiled from the sidewalks, armed with digital cameras.
Then police escorts cleared Merrick Boulevard and the 19th annual Laurelton Memorial Day Parade began.
The procession marched to the beat of the Elite Marching Band as it inched its way along the boulevard before turning left on 225th Street. Parade spectators were sparse, but small groups cheered and waved from storefronts, porch steps and front lawns.
"I'm pleased to see the number of kids here," said Lenworth James, the parade's chairman.
Members from local posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Ladies Auxiliaries led the parade. The Laurelton Lions Club , the parade's sponsor, followed.
City Councilmen David Weprin (D-Hollis) and James Sanders (D-Laurelton) and state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) joined the procession.
Youngsters, teens and parents representing groups such as the Rosedale soccer team, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and PTA marched.
A brigade of SUVs adorned with American flags and streamers brought up the rear of the parade, which ended in Veterans Memorial Triangle.
There, elected officials spoke of Memorial Day, calling on the young crowd to honor veterans.
Veterans placed a wreath at the park's memorial. VFW 5298 Post Commander Leroy Barnes read a lengthy list of Laurelton veterans who died in service. Five names were added to the list in the past month, Barnes said.
"We must remember what is going on in the world today," Borough President Helen Marshall told the crowd.
Jean Dupoux, a Rosedale resident and Boy Scout troop leader, marched with his son, Timothy, and other boys from his troop. The Boys Scouts called the parade "special" and a way to "honor the people who fought."
Dupoux, a Persian Gulf War veteran, said it is important for children to know about Memorial Day and honor the men and women of the armed forces, so they can pass it along to their children.
"They need to show respect early on," Dupoux said.
Barnes echoed the same sentiment.
"Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance," he said.
Reach reporter Katy Gagnon by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext 174.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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