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  • Tuesday, June 01, 2021

    Legionnaires Out in Force for Memorial Day Observances


    Legionnaires Ed Jackson and Shawn McLennan render salutes during ceremonies in Utica.

    More and more American Legion Posts across the state were able to return to Memorial Day traditions as pandemic restrictions eased.

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    Utica Post Commander Bill Sequin

    In Utica, for example, Utica Post 229 Commander Bill Sequin and his Legionnaires led a pilgrimage of wreath-laying at eight war memorials around the city, joined by the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Along the way, Utica Mayor Robert M. Palmieri and Congresswoman Claudia Tenney joined the tribute.


    Larry Reilly

    In Briarcliff Manor, members of American Legion Post 1054 not only gave tribute to service men and women who gave their all, but also honored long-time Post Commander Lawrence I. Reilly with a surprise presentation of a Commander’s Plaque and a “Paid-Up-For-Life” membership. Reilly is a 47-year member of the post and is in his 26th year as commander, Treasurer Mike Motta reported. ” In addition to his service to the American Legion, Larry has been a Chief, Deputy Chief, and top-responder for the Briarcliff Manor Fire Department.”

    Not only did the annual American Legion Memorial Day Ceremony return to Boulevard Gardens, Woodside, Queens after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, but it also included honors for Vietnam vet Robert C. Piazza.

    Robert C. Piazza

    Robert C. Piazza

    American Legion Post 1836 Commander Alan Armand Feuer reminded the audience that the zip code within Boulevard Gardens lost more soldiers than any other zip code across the country during the Vietnam War. “As we observe Memorial Day every year, families remember their fallen loved ones every day,” Feuer noted. “Children without parents, gold star mothers and fathers, spouses and siblings – they can still hear the voices of those that they lost. And it is up to us, to hear these families, offer support and express our highest gratitude”.

    During the ceremony wreaths were placed at the Boulevard Gardens’ main archway, and Legionnaire Robert Piazza was inducted into the NYS Senate Veterans Hall of Fame by Senator Michael Gianaris. Assemblyman Brian Barnwell presented a NYS Assembly Citation and Post Commander Feuer awarded Piazza with an American Legion Officer Award in recognition his devoted services to the Legion during his term as Post Adjutant and as Service Officer. Piazza also received an American Legion Citation for Meritorious Service.

    HERE ARE A FEW OTHER Memorial Day observances, as reported by news media.

    Long Islanders marched through a number of hamlets to honor the fallen. As in other communities, Freeport Legionnaires joined first responders for ceremonies. Legionnaire Steven Latus, 73, an Air Force veteran, told Newsday that Memorial Day was a chance for people to think about how vital military service is to our everyday lives.

    In Long Island’s Village of Island Park, the Island Park American Legion hosted a parade on Memorial Day, attracting village officials, military personnel and other veterans, the Long Island Herald reported.

    In Waddington, on the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River, members of Champion-Hobkirk American Legion Post 420, its Sons of the American Legion and Madrid American Legion helped lead a parade to the Four Corners monument, where a Monday morning ceremony and silent salute took place. The event, with a chicken barbecue that followed, was organized by Post 420 Commander Michael McIntosh, who facilitated the ceremony with New York American Legion Vice Commander John McCullough, reported. In his ceremony speech, McCullough reflected on the sentiment that “Memorial Day isn’t just a day off.”

    “Please don’t ever forget why you get this long weekend. This weekend is why we, the many, gather to honor our fallen heroes, the few, who so willingly defended our brothers and sisters and our shore.”

    In Newburgh, Town Supervisor Gil Piaquadio expressed his gratitude to American Legion Post 1420, along with other organizations, for participating in the town’s annual Memorial Day event on Sunday “to honor and remember those in the U.S. military who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation,” the Mid-Hudson News reported. Rain didn’t stop the parade, but the ceremonies that followed moved indoors.

    Even though the traditional Forest Hills Memorial Day parade was canceled for the second year in a row, Forest Hills American Legion Continental Post 1424 held a Memorial Day Weekend ceremony on May 30 at the Remsen Family Cemetery on Trotting Course Lane in Forest Hills, reported.

    “Post Commander Michael Arcati, a former Navy officer, opened the ceremony in front of about 100 veterans, community members, and elected officials who had gathered despite the cold, rainy weather that matched the somber tone of the occasion,” the Queens news outlet reported. “Arcati said that Memorial Day is a day to remember and reflect on those ‘who gave their lives for God and country’.”

    In Johnson City, the Frank A. Johnson American Legion organized several Memorial Day ceremonies, reportred.  The first event took place at 8 a.m. at the Calvary Cemetery. Following that, they relocated to Floral Park. To wrap up the day, they ended at the Veterans Memorial Park on Main Street.

    In Copenhagen, American Legion Post 723 placed flags on the graves of deceased veterans at Riverside Cemetery on Thursday, with the help of second grade students at Copenhagen Central, reported. The tradition of the students helping with placing flags is a long one, with COVID breaking the 20-year streak last year.

    Post Commander Lester Beyer noted. “They’ll remember how they honored veterans and set flags on their graves. It’ll stick with you later in life and remind you that veterans are worth honoring.”

    In Tonawanda, members of Milton J. Brounshidle American Legion Post 205 held several wreath-laying ceremonies at sites in the area on Memorial Day, the Ken-Ton Bee reported. Erie County American Legion Commander Wayne Sorrentino was caught on camera saluting a wreath laid at a veterans grave at Failing Cemetery on Delaware Road in the Town of Tonawanda.

    In the Town of Huntington, three American Legion Posts participated in a Memorial Day observance held on Sunday, May 30, in the Town Hall. They included Greenlawn American Legion Post 1244, Commander Donna Boyle; Huntington American Legion Post 360, Commander Andrew Brady, and Northport American Legion Post 694, Commander William McKenna. The ceremony attracted a number of local and state officials as well as veterans.

    The Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported that Memorial Day parades were canceled in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake this year, but not in Long Lake – where Long Lake American Legion Post 650 led the traditional parade and commemoration, with the support of the Town of Long Lake Parks and Recreation Department. “Local Commander John Hosley led the ceremony by leading a wreath drop at the Long Lake bridge, followed by color guard visits to the Doughboys Statue and the Long Lake Cemetery for the decoration of the graves with a tribute at the Vietnam memorial,” the newspaper reported. “Speakers included Legion Vice Commander Tim Touchette, town Supervisor Clay Arsenault, Commander John Hosley, invocation and benediction by Pastor John Gocke and, as guest speaker, state Assemblyman Robert Smullen, R-118th District.”