Freeport remembers sacrifice of fallen veterans


The Freeport American Legion William Clinton Story Post held its annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 27, with a large number of Freeport organizations taking part in the remembrance of fallen Veterans.

After initial concerns that morning rain could possibly dampen the important event, the sun was shining bright as the parade assembled at Freeport High School and marched eastward down West Merrick Road to the final stop at Freeport Memorial Library, where Kalib Walker, the parades Grand Marshall, convened with Mayor Robert Kennedy and others at a central dais in front of the acclaimed Freeport landmark.

The students of Freeport School District had a massive presence at the parade, with both the High School and Elementary School Marching Bands enlivening the holiday — often thought of as the unofficial start of summer — for excited onlookers who snapped photos and sat on beach chairs as the parade floated past.

The Freeport Color Guard were near the front of the parade, performing choreographed flag routines for the entire march.

Scores of youths from Freeport JNROTC marched lock in step in their crisp uniforms behind the band, proudly representing the organization.

The Freeport Fire Department had a number of trucks dedicated to the parade with both full-time and volunteer firemen marching alongside their comrades in service, including Freeport Truck Company 1, who are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year.

The Freeport Police Escort was also near the front of the parade, in addition to the officers working the event to insure a calm and orderly procedure.

Many other organizations were also at the event, some of which included the Knights of Columbus, the NAACP, the Chamber of Commerce, the Freeport Library, The Freeport Republican Club, the South Shore Guidance Center, the Christ Christo Lutheran, the Freeport Bible Center, the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, the Freeport PAL, the LI Arts Council, Friends of Freeport, the Freeport Girl Scouts, the Freeport Historical Society, and more.

Kalib Walker, the parade Grand Marshall, gave a speech at the closing ceremony of the parade. The 32 year old veteran of the Marine Corp waxed poetic about the lessons he learned in the military that he carries forward into civilian life, as well as reflected on the sacrifice of active service and what it makes possible for other citizens.

“The men and the women who join the military make it possible for the rest of our citizens to achieve our dreams. And while it is a sacrifice, it’s one that I’m proud of… the military teaching you to always be aware of your surroundings, (it also teaches you things) like (how doing small things like) using proper etiquette, (communicating respect), and doing your part contributes to something bigger than yourself.

“The weight of the trauma from combat (affects veterans) days and nights. Many of us have lifelong health problems, and that’s if we’re blessed enough to come home. I know I’m one of the fortunate ones. I am infinitely grateful to be here with you and even more grateful to have had the privilege of knowing brave heroes who have given their lives serving our country. That’s why we’re here. To honor our fallen heroes, the heroes who have died keeping us safe. We remember them, we appreciate them. We thank them for making the ultimate sacrifice for all of us.”

Mayor Kennedy, at the central dais, after impelling the audience to a moment of silence, also shared words with the assembled crowd, thanking veterans and reminding the crowd of the meaning and significance of Memorial Day.

Kennedy, a United States Navy Veteran, said “I stand with you today to honor those veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice. To afford you and I the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedom of education, the freedom to vote, the freedom to protest, and equal rights to all.

“This day, Memorial Day, is a day for remembering the men and women who gave their lives to this country.”

Kennedy finished with a quote by Elmer Davis.

“This nation will remain free, only so long as it is the home of the brave.”