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Parade draws thousands to boro

Two American soldiers of two different eras with two different backgrounds met as waves of people marched by in the annual Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day parade Monday afternoon.

Though their stories are separated by more than six decades, U.S. Army PFC Barnet Schulman and U.S. Marines Cpl. Albert Chow are both veterans. They took the time to thank each other for their military service while the pounding rhythm of a drum corps grew louder as it made its way up Northern Boulevard.

Schulman of Bayside, who served during World War II, participated in the parade for the 18th time, riding in an old Cadillac in a procession of veterans in vintage cars. He attended the parade in his decorated, tan Army uniform.

“It’s an honor. Not only for us, they’re giving the guys from Korea and ’Nam who got a bad deal honor for having served,” he said before shaking Chow’s hand and offering him words of support. “I look forward to it.”

Chow of Woodside has served for six years, including a tour as a radio operator in Iraq in 2005. He was in his new dress uniform, with its navy pants with the characteristic neon-orange stripe.

“I treat him with the utmost respect. The legends that we hear today were made by men like him. I intend to carry on the same legacy they’ve taught us,” Chow said, offering Schulman his youthful gratitude.

But Chow had a further message for civilian attendees: Memorial Day is not just a day off from work or school.

“I understand and condone families meeting together, but they’re misreading the meaning of Memorial Day if that’s all it is for them,” he said. “It’s not to gather around and have a barbecue only — the primary concern is to pay your respects to the warriors that have fallen before us.”

The Little Neck-Douglaston parade, which runs along Northern Boulevard from Great Neck, L.I., through the hearts of Little Neck and Douglaston, was a chance for New York’s more dedicated patriots, including Maj. Gen. William Monk III, commanding general of the 99th Regional Support Command at New Jersey’s Fort Dix, and the parade’s grand marshal, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), to show their support of Chow’s vision.

Between 35,000 and 45,000 people participated in the parade, billed as the largest Memorial Day parade in the country that takes place on the actual day of the holiday, and between 60,000 and 65,000 attendees lined Northern to watch it, according to the parade’s chairman, Jim Rodgers.

Priya Philip, a cadet in the Army ROTC Patriot Battalion at Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows, where she is a sophomore, carries the flag of pride in her country in a way that would make Chow proud.

The Queens Village resident marched with her battalion in the parade wearing her pressed green uniform and after the long, sweltering walk took some time to reflect on the meaning of the holiday.

“When we have the day off, some people don’t care and they just say, ‘Ooh, it’s a day off,’ but they should take the time to remember the people that gave up their lives,” she said. “They did it for us, it’s the least we can do.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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