Veterans, police, fireman, and musicians were among those who marched in today's Memorial Day parade on Main Street in Patchogue.
Residents gathered along Main Street to show their support for the armed forces and to honor the sacrifices made by those who have served our country. Sponsored by the American Legion Post 269, the Memorial Day Parade included appearances by the American Legion Ladies Auxillary, VFW Post 2913, and AMVETS Post 111. The South Ocean Middle School Band and the Patchogue-Medford High School Band marched in the parade, entertaining the crowd with patriotic songs. Also marching were students from Holy Angels School, the Patchogue Fire Department and Patchogue Ambulance Company.
Attendees gathered at the American Legion Post on South Ocean Avenue after the parade in order to pay their respects for the veterans who fought for our county's freedoms. Leaders from local veterans' organizations urged the audience to "remember to remember" those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and to thank those who have served our country.
"Memorial Day is a time to remember American freedoms and that is secured by our military men and women who bravely risked their lives in the service of their country," stated Pete Engall, Commander of VFW Post 2913. "Throughout the history of our great country these heroes have made a sacrifice and the ultimate sacrifice. This day is a time to honor their memory."
Engall concluded his speech with a reminder for the audience to "pause, reflect, and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for you and me."
Keynote Speaker Mayor Paul Pontieri spoke to the audience about the significance of Memorial Day to the families of veterans.
"Memorial Day stands alone," said Pontieri. "Of all our holidays and 3-day weekends, this is the one that not only celebrates a great nation, but it also forces us to remember the ultimate sacrifice made by many. Every day is a reminder of sacrifices made and families changed."
Pontieri spoke to the audience about visiting Dan Murphy, whose son, Michael, was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2005. To honor their son's life and his sacrifice, the Murphy family collaborated with author Gary Williams to write a book about their son, called SEAL of Honor.
"For Dan Murphy and his family, yesterday was one of 365 Memorial Days that they celebrate and that they honor every day," said Pontieri. "Lest we not forget."
The presentation of the wreaths included one wreath for Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL from Patchogue. Murphy was posthumously awarded with the Medal of Honor, the United States Military's highest decoration. The wreath was presented at a memorial in his honor, which stands in front of the American Legion Post. Local singer Leah Laurenti left the audience in awe with her soulful performance of "America The Beautiful".
Two local groups were awarded trophies after the ceremony for their appearance in the Memorial Day Parade. The 1st Regiment of Suffolk County at Bay Avenue Elementary School won Most Patriotic, while the North Patchogue Fire Department won Best Overall.