A bright sun gleamed overhead for Sunday's Memorial Day Parade in Mamaroneck, but it was the mournful New York City Police Emerald Society bagpipes that set the tone for an event to honor veterans who gave their lives for their country.
Assemblyman George Latimer, standing atop the steps of the American Legion Post 90, described all of our veterans, soldiers, Mamaroneck police, volunteer firefighters and EMS as "guardrails" — when we start to veer off the road, he said, they are there to save us and we all thank you.
Residents gathered along the sidewalks of Mamaroneck Avenue, standing at attention and applauding when men from Fleet Week — Coast Guard, Navy and Marines — walked by.
Even though the Odierna family was there "to observe what Memorial Day is really about," a parade will still bring out the smiles and laughter from men, women, children and the many dogs that lined the parade route.
Who else could the Knights of Columbus throw candy to? Who else would sway to 'There'll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight' played by the Dixie Dandies brass band?
Of course there were several Town and Village officials on hand, including Village of Mamaroneck Mayor Norman Rosenblum and Mamaroneck Supervisor Valerie O'Keeffe, Latimer, and state Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer.
WWII Veteran Tony Marsella rode down the avenue in a car, waving his flag above his fully decorated uniform and hat. He was preceded by boys of Cub Scout Pack 2, also in their fully decorated uniforms and hats.
And Tony wasn't the only local WWII vet in attendance. Ninety-year-old Irene Stone — in the fully decorated uniform she wore as a young woman — was honored as well. Irene was part of S.P.A.R., Semper Paratus Always Ready, or the U.S. Coast Guard Women's Reserve created November 23, 1942. These women took over Coast Guard office jobs so men could go fight the war, surely paving the way for future generations of women who wished to serve in the Coast Guard.
All participants, from fire trucks to Girls Scouts, marched down Mamaroneck Avenue then up Prospect Avenue to American Legion Post 90. The large crowd of residents young and old gathered and, as one, recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the national anthem.
After many introductions of local officials and speeches, the tradition of placing flags and wreaths in front of the Veteran's Memorial across the street was followed by a rifle salute and Stephen Chinn, music teacher at MAS, playing Taps on the trumpet.
As Billy Reed, a lifelong Mamaroneck resident, said: We need a moment to "reflect on what [and who] our men and women are fighting for."