Bay Ridge

World War II veteran to lead Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade

May 25, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hon. Jerome Cohen is the parade’s grand marshal. Photo courtesy of Raymond Aalbue

Theme of 2016 march: Service, Valor, Sacrifice

One of the oldest Memorial Day parades in the country takes place right here in Brooklyn. And it’s still going strong.

The 149th Annual Kings County Memorial Day Parade will be held on Monday, May 30, in Bay Ridge, starting at 11 a.m.

Hon. Jerome D. Cohen, a retired New York State Supreme Court justice and a World War II veteran, is the parade’s grand marshal. The deputy grand marshals are Dr. Charles Hall, NYPD Dep. Insp. Ray Festino and singer Frankie Marra.

The theme for the parade is “Service, Valor, Sacrifice.”

Brooklyn’s Memorial Day Parade took place on Eastern Parkway for more than 115 years and then moved to Prospect Park West. It has been held in Bay Ridge since 1988.

The parade route starts on Third Avenue and Bay Ridge Parkway and runs along Third Avenue to Marine Avenue, up Marine Avenue to Fourth Avenue and then along Fourth Avenue to 101st Street and into John Paul Jones Park.

At the conclusion of the parade, a memorial service will take place inside the park that will include a wreath-laying ceremony, a salute to the flag, the playing of “Taps” and a 21 gun-salute by the Veteran Corps of Artillery, New York state’s oldest military organization. The corps dates back to the American Revolution.

Col. Joseph Davidson, commander of the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton, will be the reviewing officer at the parade.

The parade will feature special guests, including the United States Military Academy Band, the United States Air Force Honor Guard and tenor Danny Rodriguez.

The parade is sponsored by the United Military Veterans of Kings County, Inc., a not-for-profit organization.

The veteran’s organizations expected to take part in the parade include Kings County Jewish War Veterans, Catholic War Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Kings County American Legion, Korean War Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, women veterans groups, Gulf War veterans, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Brooklyn “Key Chapter” of American Ex-Prisoners of War, Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and the group Hope for the Warriors.

The participants will also include representatives of labor unions, members of civic organizations, boy scouts and girl scouts, sea cadets, members of the Law Enforcement Explorers and Brooklyn high school bands.

The grand marshal has a long history with the parade, according to the event’s organizers.

As a member of the Sons of the American Legion, Justice Cohen has marched in the Kings County Memorial Day Parade every year since 1936, except for the three years he served in the Pacific during World War II.

Cohen, who was born in Brooklyn in 1925, still resides in the borough. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17 and served aboard the USS Nashville as pointer for a Quad 40mm anti-aircraft gun. He also served as the pilot on Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s personal motor whaleboat.

He has three sons, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Cohen holds lifetime memberships in many veterans’ organizations, including the American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans. He is the senior past national commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S. and is a member of the United Military Veterans of Kings County, where he continues to work on behalf of the parade in the country.

In addition, he is an honorary member of St. Catherine of Genoa and St. Jerome posts of the Catholic War Veterans of America.

The parade’s organizers are urging all veterans to come out and march on Memorial Day. Veterans do not have to be a member of an organization to march, organizers said.

For more information on the parade, visit www.brooklynmemorialdayparade.com.