Remembering and Honoring
Rockaway never forgets. Despite the parade being canceled again this year, Rockaway residents showed up strong to honor and remember those members of the armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice, at the various Memorial Day ceremonies on Monday, May 31.
American Legion Daniel M. O’Connell Post # 272 hosted ceremonies at the Four Chaplain’s Monument outside St. Francis de Sales church, Memorial Circle on Beach 121st Street and the Doughboy and Doughgirl Monuments on Beach 95th Street.
Veteran Mike Honan led the ceremonies, starting each with the National Anthem, followed by a prayer and the reading of the honor roll of the local uniformed members who gave their life for this country. Army Veteran Brian Galarza played Taps on the bugle and a ceremonial wreath was laid at each monument, followed by the playing of “God Bless America,” which the community proudly joined in to sing.
As we approach the 20th anniversary of September 11, Honan also took the time to recognize those who died in that tragedy. As Honan recognized the local youth in attendance, including students from St. Francis de Sales and boy scouts from Pack 147, he explained the purpose behind the ceremonies, citing a lesson from a movie his grandson loves, “Coco.” “The goal was as long as you had someone alive who remembered your name, when you pass, you are never forgotten, and this is our goal here to have our heroes of battle always be remembered,” Honan said.
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, joined the ceremonies at the Doughboy monument. “Freedom isn’t free,” she said. “Someone paid for that with their life. Someone’s family was broken in order for us all to be here today to have the freedoms to gather, for free speech. We should never forget, but as a community, we’re here together and that’s what we’ve always done in this community.”
Honan says that he hopes to resume the traditional Memorial Day Parade next year and hopes that local youth will be at the forefront.
Story and Photo
By Katie McFadden