“On Memorial Day we gather here every year at this park that we call Memorial Park in order to honor the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this great country,” New Hyde Park Mayor Daniel Petruccio said Saturday morning, quoting Isiah 6:8, which asks “Who will go for us?”
It is a reference Petruccio used in his Memorial Day speech for the veterans standing before him and for the ones which also lay interred.
“The heroes that we honor today responded to the call and for that reason we stop to honor their act of affirmation,” he said. “Today it is important that we look around us and realize what those sacrifices were for: for our life that we live, a pleasant and comfortable existence.”
While for many this weekend and the annual parade down Jericho Turnpike marks the unofficial start of summer, others have paid with their lives for others to have that summer.
Led by a color guard down Jericho Turnpike from Hillside Avenue, the parade procession first stopped at the where this year’s Grand Marshal, Navy veteran Bob O’Hara, laid a wreath in front of the memorial rock, saluting as the names of fallen veterans from New Hyde Park were read aloud, followed by three volleys from the nearby rifle squad. Memorial rock also bears the names of these veterans, including Col. John O’Grady of Terrace Boulevard who was shot down in Vietnam and according to reports whose grave was located on May 22.
“We pause to ask Your blessing on this Memorial Day gathering,” Rev. Dan Olsen said in his benediction at the start of the ceremony at Memorial Park. “Lord, in this Memorial Day gathering we’re thankful for the opportunity to gather together for the express purpose of remembering. And Lord, right now as we pause and remember and thank you for the men and women who over the years have served our nation, who have served us even to the point of sacrificing their lives, risking life and limb and Lord they’ve done this in the name of freedom and liberty and we thank you Lord for such amazing people.”
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Each group in the parade paused as they passed the village hall to salute the flag. was the next stop as the parade turned north on New Hyde Park Road before a series of fire engines from past and present spun off to return to the station. A second wreath was placed by O’Hara and VFW Post 8031 Commander Edward Smolenski at the header in front of the Memorial Park flagpole, followed by another rifle salute, followed by the singing of the national anthem by Angela Powers.
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others,” Mayor Petruccio said, quoting the Greek Pericles before reflecting that “we are the living monuments that he is speaking of; our lives and actions must honor the sacrifices of our war dead and we can never lose sight of the fact as St. Augustine wrote, ‘the purpose of all war is ultimately peace’.”