Hundreds of Brooklynites gathered in Bay Ridge on Memorial Day to pay their respects to veterans and those who died fighting in uniform for the United States.
Onlookers thronged the sidewalks along the 3rd Avenue parade route from 78th Street to Marine Avenue to honor American service members at the annual Memorial Day Parade, hosted by The United Military Veterans of King County, which is now in its 156th year.
The parade was followed up by a wreath laying and a memorial service at nearby John Paul Jones Park, where veterans raised the American flag.
There are over 210,000 veterans living in the Five Boroughs, with around 52,000 residing in Brooklyn, according to the city’s Department of Veterans’ Services.
The long-standing parade was founded just after the end of the Civil War with its first iteration in 1867 on Eastern Parkway, and it is considered the oldest continuously running Memorial Day parade in a large city in the nation.
It was held at Eastern Parkway until 1985, followed by a brief tenure on Prospect Park West, and moved to Bay Ridge more than 30 years ago due to the neighborhood’s proximity to US Army Garrison Fort Hamilton — the only active duty military installation in the greater New York City Metropolitan Area.
This year’s grand marshal was Brigadier General John Thomas Digilio, Jr, while deputy grand marshals were members of Tiger Battalion Fort Hamilton High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and Rough Riders Battalion Theodore Roosevelt JROTC.
“Bay Ridge is a place that doesn’t forget, Bay Ridge is a place that keeps tradition alive,” local Council Member Justin Brannan told those gathered Monday at John Paul Jones Park. “Today, though we may question the wisdom of war, we may never question the sacrifice and the bravery of those who fought and died for this country.”