The Robert H. Spittel American Legion Post 1285 hosted a vibrant Memorial Day parade populated by marchers young and old. It also hosted a pre-parade ceremony that honored those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Ernest Schieferstein sang the national anthem, prompting more than a few listeners to wipe away tears, and then even more tears were shed when several wreaths were placed near the flagpole to honor the fallen.
“It’s especially significant that we recognize those who lost their lives in the name of freedom,” said Bayville American Legion Commander Vincent Libertini. “Sometime today, take a moment to think of their sacrifice and thank God for them. And if you see someone in uniform, say, ‘Thank you for your service.’”
There were even more flags this year — 428 — in the Field of Flags than last year, its inaugural year, Libertini said. “We honor our veterans with these flags and the larger ones to honor those we have lost,” he said. “Go and read the names and stand among some real American heroes.”
Mayor Robert De Natale announced that part of Bayville Avenue — from Bayville Park Boulevard to Perry Avenue — would be renamed Heroes Way, to honor the village’s veterans. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said she supported the effort, and spoke of the importance of honoring those who died.
“How do you repay the debt of the veterans?” she asked. “You never take for granted our freedom, including freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Soldiers have died for our freedom. It’s up to us to also never take our veterans for granted.”
Then it was time to find a place to watch the parade. This year’s procession included more children than in previous years, Libertini said, and so many people wanted to march that it was necessary to line them up in the St. Gertrude’s Parish Hall parking lot.
World War II veteran Jack Tilford Jr., 93, served as this year’s grand marshal. And the marchers included representatives from the Bayville Library, Bayville Little League, St. Gertrude’s Pre-School and so many more.
Marching down Bayville Avenue, they waved to the crowds lining the curbs. It seemed as if nearly everyone came out to be a part of the parade. And later, after hearing of how successful it was, if they weren’t there, they might have wished they had been.