2003-05-22 / View From the Middle

View From The Middle

Memorial Day Parade: Getting It Right In Canarsie
By Charles Rogers
View From The Middle By Charles Rogers Memorial Day Parade: Getting It Right In Canarsie — Again

They’ve been working hard, these dedicated Can-arsie individuals who have been planning this coming Memorial Day parade and festivities. They don’t want the community to revert to what it was, say, three or four years ago when there was no parade and the reason was pure, unadulterated apathy.

What a slap in the face it was at the time. What an awakening!

I refer back to a column I did remarking on this disgrace and the fact that it was only the second time since World War I — the first World War, which ended in 1918 — that this patriotic little town in the big city didn’t have its own Memorial Day parade.

Even with the surrounding apathy, there were those in 1999 who paid homage to fallen military heroes — the living veterans, including those from our local American Legion post and VFW post and DAV units, all who had served their country during and in between the times of war. They knew what this special day meant. They knew its impact, along with the memorable day that preceded it last week: Armed Forces Day (May 15th), with their peers.

As you may know, we’ve almost always had a second ceremony here, the one held at the Veterans Circle at the foot of Rockaway Parkway near Canarsie Pier. This is the one attended by ex-military people and their associates only, including the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary and Jewish War Veterans Auxiliary members. This is the "serious" one that features no marching band and, sometimes maybe, just the mournful bugle blowing of "Taps" or the rolling of a snare drum as the flag is settled at half-mast.

While the parade was more of a Decoration Day (one of the previous unofficial names for the holiday), festive occasion, this ceremony has always been a somber event, honoring all the men and women for whom that wonderful monument at the traffic circle was erected some years ago. It’s a special scene as those in attendance pause and reflect and pray.

It was during those complacent late ’90s that the patriotism that was once so dear here waned horribly, dwindling to a mere token at a traffic circle and maybe a round of drinks in honor of a fallen buddy at the Legion bar.

Not so this year!

I can’t mention all the planners by name, mainly because there are many and I would be remiss if I left out even one. You can be sure however, that those dedicated coordinators have seen to it that every aspect of the day will be memorable and the ceremonies will be something to be cherished, as we show the world that the apathy of Canarsie is in the past and we have our patriotic values straight once again.

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