Paradegoers clogged Northern Boulevard as residents and elected officials gathered Monday to honor veterans at the 82nd annual Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade.
Beginning at Jayson Avenue in Great Neck, L.I., the parade — billed as one of the largest in the nation — drew thousands of onlookers and stretched to St. Anastasia Church, on Alameda Boulevard in Douglaston.
While residents somberly remembered the country’s lost vets, parade participants loudly exalted their memory with drums, bagpipes and patriotic overtures.
The grand marshal for the parade was Master Sgt. Chester L. Marcus Jr., of the U.S. Army Reserve, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Borough President Helen Marshall served as honorary grand marshals.
“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I offer my deep gratitude to the men and women of our nation’s armed services who for generations have defended our country and put their lives on the line so others can live in peace,” Cuomo said in a statement prior to the parade. “Memorial Day offers an occasion for each of us to commemorate and reflect on the tremendous sacrifice of the service members who lost their lives fighting to defend the freedom that we take for granted each day.”
Among the elected officials who attended were state Assembly members Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and Grace Meng (D-Flushing), state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) and City Council members Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).
There were a number of Bayside residents in attendance who had sacrificed much of their lives overseas.
Sam L. Resnick, a World War II vet, said this year’s parade was the first one he had attended in 50 years. The Bayside resident, a recipient of the French Legion of Honor medal for his efforts in liberating France from the Nazis, said he could never bring himself to attend parades past because of the traumatic memories he still endures.
“It is still very difficult to talk about or even think about 60 years after the war,” said Resnick, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder to this day. “I got teary-eyed just thinking about it.
“But when a young man or woman in the military today comes up to me to thank me and to shake my hand — it is just an overwhelming and awesome feeling.”
Resnick struck up a conversation with another Bayside veteran, Barnet Schulman. The two World War II heroes shared stories, compared medals and marveled at the honor bestowed on them by the throngs of spectators.
“Anybody who served in the military should be proud, and everybody out here today should be proud to be American,” said Schulman, who saw combat in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. “People who didn’t serve, they don’t understand. But they should still be proud.”
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2012 Community News Group
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