Pols and political contenders were represented heavily at this year’s landmark Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade in Bay Ridge yesterday, despite the rain and unseasonably cool weather.
Patrons lined a wet Third Avenue from 78th St. to Marine Avenue to pay homage to veterans at the oldest continuously run Memorial Day parade in the country. The parade, which ended at the John Paul Jones Park on 101st Street and Fourth Avenue, celebrated its 150th anniversary. Bystanders cheered the procession of floats spotlighting veterans, civic groups and local politicians. Music selections from the Clann Eireann Pipe Band of Bay Ridge to the Blue Angels Drumline from East New York captured the significance of the day.
“Despite the rain and bad weather we’ve had a great turn out from many schools, civic leaders and elected officials,” said John Quaglione, Republican City Council candidate for District 43, who was on the ground to take part in honoring our fallen veterans. “It’s a testament of the respect that Brooklyn holds for our military.”
Parade organizers hosted a 40-seat dais, which housed military honorees and local politicians, some of which addressed the crowd of about 200 gathered at the John Paul Jones Park. Borough President Eric Adams, Sen. Marty Golden, Assemblymembers Pam Harris and Bill Colton and the parade’s Deputy Grand Marshall, City Councilmember Vincent Gentile were present for the Memorial Service.
“We remember you and we thank you for your service,” said Gentile, expressing his gratitude to members of the armed services. “Members of the elected government stand ready to help in whichever way possible.” Gentile who is running for Brooklyn District Attorney, will be leaving his current seat as City Council Member of District 43 because of term limits.
One of the many candidates vying for District 43’s City Council seat, Democrat Khader El-Yateem, was also in attendance. El-Yateem, who mingled with parade participants, also spoke to KCP, “As an immigrant, as an Arab-American, I appreciate the history and the legacy of the people who have done so much to protect our civil liberties,” said El-Yateem.
Co-Grand Marshall, Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, Jr. a Bay Ridge native lectured on the importance of preparing the youth to be the next military leaders of your country. Reciting statistics claiming only 36% of 18- 26-year-olds are currently eligible to join the armed forces because of low moral standings and academic grades. Toolan urged the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in attendance to be aware of their physical fitness and education.
BP Adams quickly addressed his constituents by congratulating them on their ongoing patriotic and community servitude. “Bay Ridge defines what America is made of – 150 years. We sit under the tree of freedom because that tree is watered with the blood of the boys and girls of this community, and the communities like this across America,” said Adams.
After the thunderous roar of the 21-gun salute, KCP spoke to Assemblymember Harris. “We can never forget and that was the important sentiment raised here today –– never ever forget our troops who are so special to us.”
KCP caught up with Nancy Tong, the first Asian-American Democratic district leader in Brooklyn who is also running for City Council of District 43, “I think it is so important that we recognize those that sacrifice their lives to make America beautiful –– America the great.” Tong says she has been marching in the parade for several years.
Democratic City Council candidate Justin Brannan was also in attendance accompanied by his mother Mary Brannan and his wife Leigh Jewel Holliday. Brannan told KCP, “It’s the one day a year where we all pause to reflect and remember the folks who made the ultimate sacrifice –– It really should be every day, said Brannan.
“It’s fine to question the wisdom of war, but you can never question the sacrifice of the warrior,” added Brannan.