Pride, patriotism, and plenty of smiles were on display at the 152nd Annual Kings County Memorial Day Parade on Monday as marchers and spectators alike waved American flags to celebrate the big event.
The parade, which takes place in Bay Ridge each year, is held to pay tribute to U.S. service members killed in this nation’s wars.
Marching bands, schoolchildren, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, representatives of civic organizations and, of course, veterans’ groups like the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars proudly marched along the parade route. The parade route, which began on Third Avenue, wound up inside John Paul Jones Park on Fourth Avenue, located outside the Fort Hamilton Army Base, where a post-parade ceremony was held.
The Brooklyn march — one of the oldest, continuously held Memorial Day parades in the country — is sponsored by the United Military Veterans of Kings County.
“The crowd along the parade route was the largest since I’ve been involved with the parade. We had more veterans on the floats and marching in the parade then we have had in many years,” Parade Chairperson Raymond Aalbue told this newspaper in an email. “The lead band in the parade, 369th Experience, recreating the music of the Harlem Hellfighters from World War I, was a wonderful addition to the line of march. The committee thanks everyone who marched, who came out to applaud the veterans, and remember all those who died in selfless service to our country.”
Parade Grand Marshal Marty Golden said he was deeply moved by the experience.
“There was a tremendous outpouring of support for our veterans. That was a wonderful thing to see. And to see people marching with our flag was tremendous,” Golden, a former state senator, told this newspaper.
Among those marching in the parade were Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Borough President Eric Adams, U.S. Rep. Max Rose, state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Assembly Members Mathylde Frontus and Nicole Malliotakis and Councilmember Justin Brannan.
Golden, who served in the U.S. Army National Guard several years ago, said he was honored to be marching at the head of the parade. “It was one of the best days I’ve ever had. It was a great crowd and to have my wife and sons with me was very special,” he said.
Golden’s wife Colleen and their two sons, Michael and Patrick, attended the parade ceremonies with him.
Col. Andrew Zieseniss, the commanding officer of Fort Hamilton, was one of the speakers at the ceremony in John Paul Jones Park.
The ceremony included a wreath laying, the playing of “Taps” and a 21 gun-salute by the Veteran Corps of Artillery, the oldest military organization in New York State. The group dates back to the Revolutionary War.
Golden admitted that his thoughts on the day of the parade frequently turned to the plight of military veterans who are having a tough time adjusting to civilian life.
“A large number of our veterans are having a hard time assimilating. Some of these folks have done two, three tours of combat duty. Our prayers go out to them,” he said.