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A day to honor service members who never returned home alive

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Quentin Roosevelt Post 4 American Legion began its Memorial Day ceremony with a somber laying of the wreath at the legion’s monument in the hamlet. That was followed by a startling pop, pop, pop, from a three volley-salute, performed by members of the N.Y. 11th Regiment Military Honor Guard. It is a ceremonial act performed at military funerals, as is the playing of taps on the bugle, which followed. It was all more than appropriate on Memorial Day, when our country mourns our service members that did not return home alive.

Three of the members from the 11th Regiment are from Oyster Bay, including Alex Gallego. He said he was pleased to be a part of the ceremony in his hometown.

“Even in this very challenging time that we face today the New York 11th Regiment will always put its veterans first,” he said. “Freedom is not free.”

Reginal Butt, the former Quentin Roosevelt Post 4 American Legion commander, wore a red, white and blue mask. Pausing after the short ceremony, he said that Memorial Day without the annual parade was not the same. The tradition of a parade, which began in 1920, is popular with the hundreds of residents who participate each year and the many more that view it.

“I would have liked to see our ceremony go a little longer this year,” Butt said. “We usually place flags on veteran’s graves on the Saturday before Memorial Day at Long Island National Cemetery and Calverton but were not allowed to do so this year.”

A small group of residents gathered eager to salute or place their hand on their heart when it was appropriate to do so. For them, it was important to mark Memorial Day anyway, even during the coronavirus.