Memorial Day observances in Clarkstown kicked off Friday with the annual Promenade of Heroes.
The ceremony was highlighted by a rifle salute while wreaths signifying each of the wars Clarkstown residents have died in were placed at that war’s plaque outside the Street School Community Center in New City.
Veterans from various wars and branches of the military were in attendance and Rev. Dr. Carl Johnson of New City’s Grace Point Gospel Fellowship was the main guest speaker.
“Whenever I’m in a gathering like this, I have to say I’m humbled because I know that I stand among men and women who have sacrificed for me and have sacrificed so that I might enjoy the kind of life that we all do here in America today,” he said. “It’s really my privilege to be here. We need to stop and think not only on Memorial Day, but many many other days ought to be days of remembrance. On this patriotic holiday, we’re very aware of the freedoms that we have, but we need to understand that freedom is never free.”
A few of the speakers said it’s important to look back at those who have served the country on Memorial Day and thank them, especially since Memorial Day has morphed into a holiday where many just think of it as a day for shopping and barbecues.
“We owe all our veterans, past and present, a debt of gratitude for their sacrifices made in the defense of liberty,” said Councilwoman Shirley Lasker.
Jerry Donnellan, director of the Rockland County Veterans Services Agency, asked those in attendance to take posters which explain the type of the work his agency does and display them in stores, offices, churches, synagogues and other places in hopes of helping out veterans returning home.
“I don’t think the veterans coming back today are getting the treatment that they should,” he said. “I know we’re fully respectful and we’ve tied the ribbons and done all those things, however, I think we need to do just a little bit more.”