People filled the street along Metropolitan Avenue on Sunday for the annual Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade. This year’s event was the community’s first in two years, due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Veterans, community groups, elected officials, and local residents gathered to honor and remember the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and coast guard who died in service to their country.
“The invasion of Ukraine by a tyrant is a stark reminder of why we need a strong national defense,” Michael Arcati, commander of American Legion Continental Post No. 1424 in Forest Hills, said. “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance and you see the eternal vigilance here today as the veterans of this American Legion, those of us still on active duty, and the Naval Sea Cadets who may one day raise their right hand and take the oath to defend this country.”
In an opening ceremony, The Legion Post recognized this year’s Grand Marshals, Patrick Conley, a U.S. army veteran who served from 1978 to 1981, and Timothy Ducey, a Glendale resident and community advocate who owns Acey Ducey’s and Tap House pubs in Forest Hills.
Also celebrated at the ceremony were NYPD Sergeant Christopher Fulgieri with the 2022 Forest Hills American Legion Law & Order Award, retired Engine 235 firefighter Lois Mungay with the 2022 Forest Hills American Legion First Responder Award, and Louie Suljovic, an Army veteran and hero who saved an elderly woman from a knife attack outside Louie’s Pizzeria and Restaurant on Baxter Ave. in Elmhurst.
Several local elected officials came out to show their support, including Congresswoman Grace Meng, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, New York State
Senator Joseph Addabbo, NYS Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, and Councilwoman Lynn Schulman.
Many of them took the time to remind the crowd the true meaning of the holiday.
“Memorial Day is not about barbecues, hamburgers, or beaches. It’s a dedicated day for honoring our military personnel who paid the ultimate sacrifice to afford us the freedoms we take for granted every day,” said Schulman, whose great aunt served in the Women’s Army Corps., uncle fought in WWII, and father was a soldier in the Korean War. “We also owe the Gold Star families our gratitude for their sacrifice, as it is never easy losing a loved one, and I hope they know their loss will never be forgotten.”
Rudy Markard, a Queens resident who served as a sailor in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966, has taken part in Memorial Day parades for several years.
He takes pride in showing off his rebuilt military Jeep and letting children interact with the vehicle.
“It takes me back 50 years when I had little kids, so it’s a connection with life. It’s just wonderful,” Markard said.