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Remembering and honoring the fallen on Memorial Day in Glen Head

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After a rain-soaked weekend, the weather cleared by Monday morning, allowing holiday events in Glen Head to go forward as planned. Families lined the streets to watch the Memorial Day parade, organized by Glenwood Landing American Legion Post 336, and dozens gathered for the ceremony outside the post headquarters on Glen Head Road.

The ceremony, emceed by parade Chairman Bill Laderer, featured music by members of the North Shore High School band, the Our Savior’s Lutheran Church chorus and the North Shore Community Chorus.

Post 336 Chaplain Ralph Casey gave the invocation. “May we never fail to remember the loss in the course of the freedom that we enjoy,” Casey said before reading the names of 13 post members who died in the past year and asked for a special blessing for them.

Post Commander Capt. Robert Bazan spoke of the decisions people make when enlisting in the armed services and the unpopularity of war among many, and said, “We should always remember that the decisions leading to war are those of policymakers, not the veterans themselves. This is why we’re here today … to honor the sacrifices made by the 1 million heroes who died while defending this country since the American Revolution.”

Of the pain felt by the friends and family members of the fallen, Bazan said, “Most of us will not truly understand the depths of their despair unless we have experienced it, but we can always offer our support.” That support, he said, can be shown by wearing a poppy, placing flags and wreaths at gravesites and donating to charities, as well as saying “thank you” to veterans.

Bazan said that since the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, more than 1,600 Americans have lost their lives fighting in covert operations and Cold War battles. “Our organization, the American Legion, recognizes that when rounds are coming your way, there’s no such thing as a ‘small war.’ We honor those sacrifices as much as we honor those lost on Iwo Jima, or at the Frozen Chosin.”

For the first 100 years of the organization’s existence, Bazan said, the American Legion constitution’s preamble stated its “commitment to preserve the memories and incidents of associations in the Great War, and later the Great Wars.” That wording, he said, “was a natural outcome of an organization that was founded by World War I veterans, and succeeded and equally committed by World War II veterans.”

In 2019, the organization changed its preamble and expanded its publicly stated commitment, Bazan said. “We now promise to preserve the memories and incidents in associations in all wars. We are here today to honor all of our fallen heroes. We honor American heroes from the American Revolution through the global war on terrorism, and every battle in between. The location is not important — it is the hearts of these men and women that truly matters. It’s the devotion within them that led themto sacrifice their lives for the country that we all love.

“War is often not the best policy,” Bazan concluded, “but the heroes that wars produce are the best of America.”

The Rev. Kimberly Wilson, pastor of Our Savior’s in Glen Head, gave the closing prayer. “We pray for all of the fallen. We remember all with great courage who have borne the battle, whose devotion to duty has sustained our country and saved our heritage as a free people in a free society,” Wilson said. “Though our hearts ache in their absence, we find comfort in knowing that their legacy lives on in all of us: in the security that allows us to live in peace, the prosperity that allows us to pursue our dreams and the love that still beats in the hearts of all who knew them and remember them.”