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JERRY KASSAR
JERRY KASSAR

It appears that the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade is unraveling. As a result of the organizing committee’s decision, at the behest of Council Speaker Viverito, to honor FALN terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera, most sponsors and many elected officials have withdrawn support.

Make no mistake about it. Rivera is a terrorist who was behind a number of bombings, including the Fraunces Tavern bombing, that killed or maimed many individuals. To add insult to injury, in prison he attempted a violent jail break. President Obama should not have granted him clemency.

The Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello last week also denounced the parade’s choice of Rivera, saying, “I would urge anyone – all of the sponsors and anyone — to avoid supporting this endeavor. I can tell you the vast majority in Puerto Rico opposes this, and they have good reasons. Nobody wants to celebrate his actions.”  I think this statement says it all.

Mayor de Blasio is still planning to march and Paul Massey, who is seeking the Republican endorsement for mayor, is planning on attending. That alone should disqualify him from being seriously considered as the Republican Party nominee.

Governor Cuomo has withdrawn as well as Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis who is the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for mayor.

Joe Connor lost his father in the Fraunces Tavern bombing. He was a child and together with his siblings grew up with the knowledge that Rivera took his father’s life.

Joe and his family fought the efforts to grant their father’s murderer clemency. Now Joe, who travels each day from his home in central New Jersey to his job in midtown, must confront one of city’s most iconic parades honoring his father’s murderer.  

The United States, and the world, for that matter, are in the midst of a war with terrorism that is being fought in stadiums and on buses and in the streets everyday.  The thought that a major ethnic parade in the City of New York could have a terrorist as its man of the year is beyond comprehension.

***

Retired Marine Lieutenant General John Toolan led this year’s 150th anniversary Memorial Day Parade. General Toolan was raised in Dyker Heights and is the son of my friend John Toolan who himself was a Marine Reserve major.  

When I first met Mr. Toolan, his son had just been promoted to colonel. Mr. Toolan very much beamed with pride. He would often tell me stories of things that were happening with his son, like the time he spent with Colonel North during the first Iraq war.

The general’s continuous rise through the ranks did not surprise Mr. Toolan, who remarked that he had never known a finer man or better soldier. The general’s son also went on to Annapolis with my friend attending his graduation with his son, the general.    

This parade honored a great American, a true patriot, and in doing so it also honored Mr. Toolan and his entire family, a very deserving group.

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