The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 
By JOHN ROCHE
JOHN ROCHE PHOTO

Veterans at the Katonah parade on Monday, May 28 honor our nation’s fallen.

 

Memorial Day parades and ceremonies in each of Bedford’s three hamlets captured a patriotic spirit and paid solemn tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation.

From the veterans, Scouts and others who marched to those who lined the routes to guest speakers at ceremonies in Bedford Hills, Katonah and Bedford Village, participants in the trio of annual parades on Monday commemorated the freedoms the United States is known for, and recognized those who lost their lives defending those freedoms.

Supervisor Lee Roberts, who marched in all three parades on May 28 and spoke at ceremonies in each hamlet, said it is important each Memorial Day to pause and reflect on those who lost their lives in the military. “In the midst of our busy lives, it is easy to forget the incredible sacrifices made by our servicemen and women in order to secure our freedom,” said Ms. Roberts. “We are all in their debt.”

As in years past, Memorial Day throughout Bedford was marked with fervent displays of red, white and blue as scores of residents took part in one or all of the three consecutive parades in the hamlets.

But while the marching, music and festive flair of the parades painted portraits of small-town Americana, the ceremonies that followed conveyed the deeper significance of the national holiday.

County Legislator Peter Harckham, who was the keynote speaker in Bedford Hills, said the national holiday is “a day of remembrance, reflection, prayer and unity,” noting that Memorial Day traces its roots to just after the Civil War, when flowers were placed on the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery.

“Today, our nation is as divided as I can remember,” Mr. Harckham said. “So it’s important that we understand that when our young people answer the call of duty or pay the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country, they don’t do so as Democrats or Republicans. They do so as Americans. So as we gather here today to honor their memory and remember their sacrifice, we don’t do so as partisans, but rather as Americans, united in our common, deep-rooted love of freedom, self-determination, family, community and faith.”

Two wreaths were placed at war memorials in Bedford Hills following the parade, which was sponsored by the Bedford Hills Lions Club and the Bedford Hills Fire Department. David Brown served as master of ceremonies for the event, which also included musical selections and remarks from elected officials.

Assemblyman Robert Castelli told the crowd at the ceremony in Bedford Hills that five generations of his family have served in the armed forces. “I am the grandson of a World War I veteran, the son of a World War II veteran, a Vietnam veteran myself, and the father of a veteran, a colonel in the United States Army who has completed five tours in Afghanistan,” Mr. Castelli said. “This is a solemn day of remembrance for those who made the supreme sacrifice in the service of this nation. This is a day for us to hold them high and to remember that sacrifice, because truly, the price of freedom has never been free.”

In Katonah, American Legion Post 1575 Commander Guy Zinser led a ceremony that included remarks by the American Legion’s David Peter Brown, who served as master of ceremonies.

“Remembering our fallen once a year is hardly enough,” Mr. Brown said. “But we gather here together on Memorial Day to honor the memory of our fallen warriors who have given everything for our country.”

Wreaths were placed at three monuments to the war dead in Katonah, including one in front of the firehouse, where paradegoers enjoyed ice cream and other refreshments after the parade and ceremony. Many of those who marched or lined the streets in Katonah later attended a barbecue at the American Legion’s headquarters on Route 22.

In Bedford Village, Bedford Town Justice Kevin Quaranta delivered a keynote address that encouraged those in attendance to reflect on “the cost of the freedoms that we all enjoy, and perhaps at times take for granted.”

Mr. Quaranta, who enlisted in the Army’s JAG Corps in his 20s and served again as a Reservist during the Persian Gulf War, explained that his father — “a father I never knew” — served in the Army in the Italian theater during World War II.

In order to honor “the service and sacrifices of the brave,” Mr. Quaranta urged residents to serve their country or community, if not in the armed forces, then by volunteering with the local fire department, the Lions Club, of which he is a member, or one of the other “vital service organizations that make our town of Bedford and our great country strong.”

Bedford Fire Chief Jason Siemers led the ceremony on the Village Green, which included a wreath being placed at the war memorial and a tree planting to honor Paul “Pete” Haskell, a longtime member of the Bedford Village Lions Club who died last fall. 

A longstanding tradition tied to the Bedford Village parade is the bicycle-decorating contest, in which prizes are awarded in three age categories to youngsters who adorn their bikes, or in some cases strollers, wagons, scooters or toy cars, in patriotic colors.

Sponsored by the Bedford Village Lions Club, this year’s contest sparked plenty of creativity in the slew of kids who participated. A barbecue at the firehouse, another annual tradition, followed.

At each of the ceremonies, Ms. Roberts shared the thoughts and emotions she experienced visiting Normandy, France, several years ago, including the U.S. military cemetery containing the graves of 9,387 soldiers, most who lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing battles.

“On Memorial Day 2012, let us express our gratitude to all of those who served, and acknowledge their families left behind,” Ms. Roberts said. “We salute our veterans and our service men and women and vow that their sacrifice will never be in vain.”

Unseasonably high temperatures and humidity didn’t keep Bedford residents from lining the parade routes and joining in the ceremonies. At each hamlet’s ceremony, ambulance corps members jumped into action when a parade participant was overcome by the heat. All three persons bounced back quickly after being given water and cold compresses were applied by the volunteer EMTs. 

Many of those who turned out for the parades said they felt it was important to show their support for those who perished in service to the nation, as well as veterans and those currently serving in the military.

Seth and Lisa Squadron took in the parade and ceremony in Bedford Hills with their children Kaiden, 3, and Reilly, 1. “Parades are always fun, but it’s important that we pay our respects to those who lost their lives and always remember their sacrifices,” Mr. Squadron said.

Theresa Curra, whose husband Dominick was marching in the parade as a member of the Bedford Hills Fire Department, was joined by her parents, Santo and Erika Verde. “This is a way to say thanks for those who died serving our country, and those who are serving right now,” said Ms. Curra, who is expecting a son in September. “Coming out to a Memorial Day ceremony is the least we can do to remember and honor all those who have given so much.”

Katonah resident Vincent J. Faughnan, who served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, said the parades and ceremonies carry a message that should be heeded by all ages. “We need to remember those who served and never made it back home,” he said. “We need to keep their memory alive, which is what’s behind gatherings like this one here today.”

Bob Black and his wife, Hope, were among those lining the parade route in Bedford Village. “Remembering the sacrifices that were made by those in our military so that we can enjoy a day like today and live in a country and a town as great as ours is a great tradition,” said Mr. Black, of Bedford. “Whether it was marching in parades when I was young as a Boy Scout, or cheering on the veterans, volunteer firefighters and everyone else taking part, it’s important that we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”


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Bedford Hills

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Katonah

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Mount Kisco

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Cross River

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June 1, 2012

Red, white and blue on display as hamlets mark Memorial Day