Memorial Day 2015 - Paid Tribute American soldiers

Author: MARZENA KOSTRZEWA-STAFIEJ. Published: Saturday 20 June 2015

Memorial Day 2015

Paid Tribute American Soldiers

This year, Memorial Day fell on May 25th. It was exceptionnaly beautiful, sunny day. Our small Polish delegation took part in the ceremony, which every year is being prepared by the Naurashank Post 794 of the American Legion and our local Nanuet Fire Department.

I was writing about the history and importance of this holiday on many occasions and, despite of many doubts, I still believe it's well recognized by Polish emigrants living in the United States. For many, it’s only a long weekend in May, time of attractive commercial “sales” events, special offers etc. (brr ... horror, I never get used to that so important, thought-provoking and meditation event could be just a simple pretext to "round-up" customers).

Memorial Day celebrants gathered in Nanuet, NY, near the local Fire Station, which is the site of the fire brigade, before the granite obelisk. Among firefighters, scouts, veterans, soldiers, politicians were present Natalia and Olivia Stankiewicz, Max and Sebastian Pogon, representatives of Polish children's club "Sloneczko" in Rockland County, New York.

The course of celebration was similar to those in previous years, only veterans of World War II, Korean and Vietnam wars were becoming less, and less visible. Slowly but slowly this generation is being replaced by younger vets – those from Operation Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Gathered were greeted by John Wayne - the head of the American Legion in Nanuet. Next, the 92-year-old deacon John Maloney from the RC parish of St. Anthony, a retired firefighter, led a joint prayer followed by a representative of the veterans of the Jewish faith. Then, short speech took Alex Gromack, a representative of our district authorities.

An interesting speech was made by Jeremy E. Honey, head of the local organization of Disabled American Veterans. Last year he spoke about the heroism of soldiers and civilians during World War II, about prisoners of Nazi concentration and labor camps. This time his speech was devoted to American soldiers fighting in Vietnam. This is a topic that is still very sensitive to the American society. Jeremy, a veteran of the Vietnam War, is consistently fighting against the unfair attitude towards himself, towards his comrades.

For years this was, and still is, his personal mission to speak up for those who fought in that war, about which America so quickly tried to forget. We are proud to hear that he’s increasingly being invited to more and more meetings at schools, special commemorative events and even scout camps. Had things started to change?

After the speeches there was a laying of flowers and a salute of three historic M1 Garand rifles from private collections of members of Post 794.

Our Polish children presented themselves exceptionally attractive, and their Cracovia dresses were, as always admired. One of the twin-brothers, Sebastian, was especially focusing on the drill of fire-fighters and scouts. Of course, he was still way too young to join this exclusive groups, even the youngest, but he tried to imitate them, at least. It was very touching, as he stood at attention and saluted them as a small Polish boy in Cracovian Folk attire. A commander of the firefighters praised him and offered a joint drill.

After the official ceremony all were invited to a well-stuffed picnic at the fire station. Tasty food and cold sodas strengthened our small companion.