Brooklyn wouldn’t be the same without its annual Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade.
Year after year, the efforts have increased to keep the 146-year-old tradition alive, inviting all veterans to join in on the oldest continuously run parade in the nation that has been held in Bay Ridge for the past 21 years.
“I’ve been marching in this parade for over 50 years. Our ranks get smaller every year as we lose a few more of our comrades who fought in Korea and WWII,” said Prisco DeAngelis, a Korean War veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
The energy is focused on thanking members of the military past and present, as well as paying respect to all the men and women who laid down their lives for this country, consequently the theme for this year’s march is “Lest we Forget.”
“They put their lives on hold and serve the nation. A lot of them don’t come home; they die on the battlefields,” said Ray Aalbue, the parade’s chairperson, about all the heroes. An Air Force veteran himself, Aalbue explained he didn’t serve in Vietnam, thus never experienced what it was like to be in a battle.
For the uncountable soldiers’ lives that were lost in the wars, “I just wanted to make sure that their memories are not forgotten,” Aalbue added.
This year, Borough President Marty Markowitz will be marching as the parade’s grand marshal. “Marty has been an honorary chairman, I just wanted to give him his time in the sun,” Aalbue noted, adding that throughout the years, Markowitz has done a lot for the parade and the Veterans of Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Parks Department Chief of Staff Marty Maher will be deputy marshal, and Colonel Eluyn Gines, the commander of Fort Hamilton, will be the reviewing officer.
Among the veterans’ groups that will be marching are the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Catholic War Veterans, the Jewish War Veterans, the Korean War Veterans, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Disabled American Veterans, the Women Veterans, the Gulf War and OEF/OIF Veterans, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Brooklyn “Key Chapter” American Ex-Prisoners of War, and Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans, led by the Kings County American Legion.
Coming on a bus from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Lahser High School’s marching band will proudly be joining everyone else along the parade route. Thanks to the Internet, explained Aalbue, the marching band had reached out to the parade committee asking to form part of this year’s procession.
They’ll be strutting along with the Iron Workers’ Union and the Operating Engineers’ Union.“It’s exciting for the spectators; we try to build it up [every year],” concluded Aalbue.
Eight bands will be performing.
The parade will kick off at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 27 at Third Avenue and 87th Street. Following the parade, there will be a ceremony in Cannonball Park, 101st Street and Fourth Avenue, that includes a wreath laying, the raising of the flag, the playing of taps and a 21-gun salute by Army soldiers from Fort Hamilton.