By QUEEN BETHANY
With flags waving and musical instruments shining in the sun, Freeport’s Memorial Day Parade honored the sacrifice of the community’s fallen soldiers.
Beginning in high school, the parade traveled West Merrick Road to the Freeport Memorial Library, named after the stone war memorial placed on its lawn in 1924.
Freeport American Legion veterans William Clinton Story Post 342 carried his large banner and greeted the cheers of onlookers with big smiles as they passed.
The many organizations and groups in the village lined up in colorful rows along the parade route. Members of the volunteer fire department, the state’s largest, marched in midnight blue columns, followed by a long line of fire trucks and rescue vehicles.
District students aged 9 and up showed off their musical abilities, marching, playing and dancing.
After Deacon Bruce Burnham of Our Holy Redeemer RC Church delivered the invocation, Post 342 member Dominic Albanese led the Pledge of Allegiance and musicians from Freeport High performed the national anthem beautifully .
After welcoming the dignitaries in attendance, parade announcer William H. White Jr. passed the microphone to Mayor Robert Kennedy, who, at the end of his address, offered an uplifting quote from American journalist Elmer Davis: This nation will remain the land of the free only as long as it is the home of the brave.
Post 342 Treasurer and former Commanding Officer Calvin Andrew introduced Parade Grand Marshal Coy Richardson, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran who has lived in Freeport with his wife, Pat, for 50 years.
“I pray that one day all Vietnamese POWs and MIAs will come back safe and sound,” Richardson said. “And today I’m representing my father, who was a World War II veteran.”
Archivist and Librarian Regina Feeney read out the name of the soldier who was honored this year with the laying of the wreath in front of the war memorial.
“Sergeant Robert A. Hendriks,” Feeney said, “was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, Weapons Company in Garden City. He died April 8, 2019. [in Afghanistan]. He died at age 25. »
Post 342 Chaplain Marie Houanche led prayers for Hendriks and his family. Three trumpeters from Freeport High School played “Taps” so movingly that a long moment of silence followed before applause rewarded their performance.
The Nassau County Sheriff’s Honor Guard then folded the large American flag that had remained on the stone war memorial during the parade.
Chaplain Houanche received it and presented it to Marianne Endo and her son Lester Endo Jr., in commemoration of Navy veteran Lester Endo, who passed away last summer.
Reverend Phil Prestamo, pastor of Cornerstone Church on Pine Street, prayed the blessing. Calvin Andrew and Commanding Officer of Post 342 Eric Young retired the colors, removing the American and Post 342 flags from their stanchions near the war memorial and taking them away.
Among the spectators were Tim Regan, 69, a Freeport resident and Vietnam veteran, and his 48-year-old wife, Marie Regan, 70.
“The parade is a good thing,” said Tim Regan. “It makes people in the village reminisce, talk to each other.”
“It’s more than barbecues and parades,” Marie Regan said, “it’s to honor those people who have sacrificed.”
Freeporters Stephen and Monica Maresco had come to the parade for the first time to see their nephew, Justin Perdomo, play trombone with the Atkinson School Band.
“Freeport is my hometown,” Monica said. “I appreciate that we honor our veterans and show them the respect they deserve. It’s a beautiful and wonderful day.
In the shade of a tree on the lawn of the library, Charles Wapples, 13, rested his trumpet in the crook of his arm. He had walked and played with the John W. Dodd Middle School band.
“I love being in the band because I love playing the instrument, especially on Memorial Day,” Charles said. “It honors our veterans who lost their lives in World War II.”
“We always go out for the parade,” her mother, Shawn Hills-Wapples, said as their school-aged daughter Christina crossed the street to join her and husband Lawrence Wapples. “We live here, we love it here, and the parade shows the beauty we have in our community in Freeport.”
“It’s the pride of the city,” Lawrence said. “It’s like the big Freeport family.”