Lest we forget.
The 149th Annual Kings County Memorial Day Parade — held along Third Avenue in Bay Ridge on Monday, May 30 — was yet another successful day to honor those who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.
Hosted by the United Military Veterans of Kings County, attendees lucked out as the rain held off throughout the march.
“Practically everyone that said they would march in the parade showed up and a lot of people came out,” said Parade Chairperson Raymond Aalbue. “I think it was the best crowd along the parade route we’ve ever had.”
“It turned out to be a beautiful day,” said Frankie Marra, who was one of the deputy grand marshals of the parade, and who has made a major effort over the past several years to raise funds to ensure its continuation. “Anytime you can get out and honor soldiers that gave their all, it’s great.”
The parade was led by the West Point Band, and many others took part as well. “We had Fort Hamilton marching with us. And Fort Hamilton High School JROTC did a great job volunteering and helping us in the park and along the parade route,” said Aalbue. “We had a band from FDR High School in Brooklyn. We had Breezy Point Pipes and Drums for the first time in the parade, and the FDNY Pipes and Drums.”
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard was also in the Line of March. Boy and Girl scouts, along with other youth groups, also marched, along with representatives from the NYPD and FDNY.
This year’s Grand Marshal, World War II veteran Jerome Cohen, and Deputy Grand Marshals Marra, Gulf War Veteran Dr. Charles E. Hall and Deputy Inspector Ray Festino, chief of detectives of Brooklyn South, were well received by attendees.
“Grand Marshal Jerome Cohen led the parade. He has marched in almost every parade since 1936,” Aalbue said. “He missed three years because he was fighting in the Pacific in World War II. He served on the USS Nashville which was General MacArthur’s flagship.”
The Nashville was hit by a kamikaze and Cohen’s brothers in arms werewounded and killed, said Aalbue, adding, “He was wounded as well. He was given a Purple Heart and a Presidential Commendation for his service.”
Marra was thrilled to be honored during the parade. “It is a tremendous honor. I’m not a veteran but I guess they recognized I helped them make the parade bigger with the money I raised,” he said. His father, who served in World War II, died two years ago.
Highlights included a wreath-laying, a 21-gun salute and a flag raising at Cannonball Park. “Daniel Rodriguez was awesome singing the National Anthem and God Bless America. Everyone was in awe,” Aalbue said. “We also had four floats for the parade, including the Catholic War Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, Korean War Veterans and United Military Veterans.
“It was very touching. Bay Ridge turned out in force. It made the veterans marching in parade feel good,” concluded Aalbue.