B’klyn Memorial Day Parade, one of the nation’s oldest, is back

June 2, 2021 Jaime DeJesus
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Once again, Brooklyn veterans came to Bay Ridge to remember those who fought and died in service to America. 

This year’s Memorial Day Parade/Motorcade, on May 31, started at 11 a.m. at Ridge Boulevard and Third Avenue.  A wreath-laying ceremony was also held at the Brooklyn Veterans Administration Medical Center. 

While there is some debate over which Memorial Day parade in the U.S. is the oldest, the Brooklyn parade, which dates to 1867, is certainly one of them. Last year, a scaled-down version of the parade was held due to COVID-19, but this year, things were more back to normal.

Elected officials were in attendance, along with Col. Craig Martin, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn’s and the city’s only active military installation, who rode on the veterans’ float in the motorcade.

The color guard honors those who sacrificed themselves for this country.

The parade’s grand marshal was World War II veteran David Vogel of the Brooklyn Veteran Service Organization.

As always, dozens of cars, many of them classic automobiles from many years ago, and floats drove along Third Avenue. Attendees estimated that 50 to 75 cars drove down the avenue.

A memorial service was then held at John Paul Jones Park at 1 p.m. Re-enactors were also part of the day, as Michael Grillo portrayed Gen. George Washington, Continental Army leader who later became the country’s first president.

Danny Friedman, president of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 72, led the VA Wreath Laying Ceremony.

“We were there for the fallen comrades we left behind and comrades who have died since as a result of the medical and mental wounds from the war,” he told this paper. “We were there so that the school children will remember the cost of war. 

“We were there so the community will remember the cost of war. We were there to show that even a pandemic cannot stop the 154th consecutive Memorial Day Parade in Brooklyn,” he added.

Re-enactors dressed in the uniforms of Revolutionary War soldiers.

The Bay Ridge community expressed thanks to Ray Aalbue, chairman and executive director of the Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade committee, who organized the event.

“Our community truly appreciates all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make this happen,” said Councilmember Justin Brannan. “We know under the past two years, it has been under less-than-ideal circumstances. We all look forward to getting back to normal with the 155th Memorial Day Parade bigger and better than ever next year.”

“Our community is lucky to have leaders like Ray Aalbue who work tirelessly to make sure we never forget those who have served in our military,” said John Quaglione, Republican district leader, 46th Assembly District. “Thank you, Ray, for bringing so many people together to salute our fallen and applaud our heroes.”

“We are thankful to be a part of this local observance, taking the time to honor the memory of those who have fallen for our great nation,” said Col. Craig Martin, Fort Hamilton Garrison commander. 

Eagle photos by Mario Belluomo

“To the families who have endured this great loss, we are inspired by their strength and resilience. I hope that we can remember the link we have with all the generations that have gone before us who selflessly served our country and paid the ultimate price,” he said.

The next Brooklyn Memorial Day parade will be held on May 30, 2022.  

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