Memorial Day In Brooklyn

May 30, 2011

I’ll attempt to keep my commentary to a minimum, since I don’t think I can add much to the images I’ll be posting today. The image above is of the Field of Flags, a memorial to the 266 New Yorkers who been killed in action during operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and associated theaters of the War on Terror. The fact that I couldn’t get the entire field into view illustrates the extent of the sacrifice made by men and women of our Armed Forces, but also the contribution New York as a state has made to their missions overseas.

Not all the images I captured during my encounters at the Kings County Memorial Day Parade were as somber as the one above, but many of them did capture the spirit of dedication displayed by  those who chose to honor fallen members of the United States military-many of them close friends, spouses, siblings, or children-on this day. A good example is the woman I met during the post-parade ceremony, who-along with her husband-created a fantastic charity called  Hockey Players Support Our Troops

The proceeds from the sale of those patches and t-shirts go towards New Yorkers who have had family members killed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were many worthwhile organizations who participated in today’s events, including one of my favorite groups assisting those who weren’t killed in action, but who nonetheless experienced grievous wounds in battle. The Wounded Warrior Project had a booth set up inside of John Paul Jones Park: 

One of the insights that can be drawn from today’s events is the thread of sacrifice running through this nation’s history. Even though much of the scheduled program dwelled on the service of current soldiers, sailors, seamen and Marines-as well as the men and women who have fallen during the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, many speakers alluded to past wars in which Americans fought and died with honor. Keep in mind, this commemoration was known originally as Decoration Day, which was intended to honor the men who died in order to preserve the Union.

The connection between the present and the past is palpable even before you enter John Paul Jones Park. Whether in the form of the Civil War memorial the U.S. military presented in 1900 and which now stands at the base of the park:

Or the Dover Patrol Naval War Memorial, which was a gift from England after the First World War:


Or a plaque commemorating the sacrifices of New Yorkers who rose up in defense of the new nation during our war of independence from Great Britain:

The continuity of sacrifice on behalf of this nation by its finest stock is inescapable. The very name, John Paul Jones Park, evokes memories of one of this nation’s most iconic, original war heroes. But in addition to remembering the sacrifices made by past and present generations of Americans, the Memorial Day events in Brooklyn also served as a celebration of the men and women who’ve chosen to make defending the United States their chosen vocation. This joy could be felt throughout the parade, whose sponsors and participants included numerous local civic and veteran organizations, as well as numerous local high schools, including Bishop Kearney, Fort Hamilton, and James Madison High School.

Korean War veterans, despite the overbearing heat and humidity of the day, acquitted themselves brilliantly throughout the parade:

The American Legion-a staunch defender of American sovereignty and border security-was well represented at the parade:

There was musical accompaniment throughout the parade and post-parade ceremonies:

Tomorrow, I’ll bring you some pictures of the lighter side of the Memorial Day Parade.

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